England have their smiles back – but Japan could cause trouble in their next Rugby World Cup clash

Steve Borthwick said the smile was back on his face after a refreshing win over Argentina, soon after naming his England squad against Japan on Friday night. Borthwick may be a phlegmatic figure, sensible and sober, but even he wore a grin at times this week. „I think I’m laughing too hard,” laughed Borthwick, but soon it was back to the task at hand. „Every day, we try to be better. Our focus is playing in Japan on Sunday night and we can’t wait for that game.

What a difference a win makes. Nice has been a favorite destination for the British since the late 18th centuryTh century and this latest group of travelers to settle in this beautiful coastal region are enjoying their French adventure so far. England, clearly, are still behind the best teams in the world, but they will try to take another step forward against Japan this weekend.

If there was a sense that some players may have lost confidence in their strategy after their warm-up woes, everyone is now back on board and ready for more. „They can’t wait to get out on the big occasion again,” Borthwick said of his players ahead of their second Pool D match. „The party started in Paris on Friday night last week and we’ve got a few more players who want to join the party this week. This team wants to be thick and we’re looking forward to this game on Sunday night.”

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Borthwick has suffered a few head injuries while inking his starting side this week in the win over Argentina. For the first time in his tenure, the England head coach is fielding an unchanged backline, while Louis Ludlam’s spirited 15 minutes against Argentina earned him a start after Tom Curry’s ban by Billy Vunipola. There is a reshuffling of props, with Joe Marler and Kyle Sinclair deciding on the perfect starting pairing for Japan’s challenge.

„Lewis is a great energizer,” Borthwick explained of Ludlam’s selection. „He’s a great driver of this team and is very generous in helping other teammates improve, and you always need those types of players in your team.

„He carries, he runs hard and covers a lot of ground on defense, which I don’t think people see very often. What he does often goes under the radar. He’s that type of player, and we respect that here.

However, while that opening win has revitalized the team, there are still issues to resolve, especially on offense. Data from Opta shows that England played less than 15% of their first receivers against Argentina, the fourth-lowest rate so far this World Cup. England’s attack accounted for a fifth of „dominants”, the lowest of any side on the opening weekend.

Steve Borthwick’s team has been revitalized by his performance against Argentina

(Getty Images)

To what extent was England’s narrow approach a result of the situation after the shipment of charcoal? The kick-pressure game that worked so well in Marseille will be at the forefront of England’s strategy, but this feels like a time when they can open things up in the final weeks, as they did against Japan last November. Eddie Jones took over.

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„We know how good our offense can be, so we can show that in the next few games,” Elliott Daley said this week. “We’re not saying we’re going to pass the ball around [all the time] But we’re going to commit ourselves in attacking positions to get the chances we create.

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It’s simply a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais. This may be a Japan team on the brink of a major rebuild, but many of the same players that won all four pool games at their home tournament remain.

While Covid has affected all rugby nations, Japan has been hit hardest, denied the opportunity to use the slingshot their own competition should have offered. A lack of international rugby halted the progress of Jamie Joseph’s team – Michael Leitch, for example, had won just two of 14 internationals since the last World Cup. Cup.

The somewhat complex player path system still doesn’t offer the ability to recreate a side that reaches the end of an era. This will almost certainly be the last match for talisman Leeds, and it will also be the same for loosehead Geeta Inagaki. Head coach Joseph will return to New Zealand at the end of this World Cup. Defense coach John Mitchell, once one of Eddie Jones’ key lieutenants, is returning to English rugby with the Red Roses.

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Japan won their World Cup with a bonus point against Chile

(Getty Images)

Their back five is strong, notable for Kazuki Himeno’s late return from injury against Chile – the winger’s prowess on the ball has made the word „fox” popular in Japan. Amato Fakatawa’s fitness has been a boon ahead of this match, while Warner Dearnes is a long-serving player. Attack coach Tony Brown remains one of the game’s most innovative thinkers – Kevin Sinfield likened Japan’s attack to tiki-taka football this week, complex, ornate and precise.

„They played really well against Argentina,” Joseph said on Friday. „They controlled that whole game through pressure. Argentina didn’t really have a chance. I think that was England at their best. We’ve seen England at their best in the last game they’ve played, but we’ve seen them pick up a few weaknesses before. If we find them and play our own game, You can get some opportunities.

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