By Joshua Graham, Daniel Brookes, Rachel Steinberg, William Pickworth
September 20 2019, 10.45
Owen Farrell (fly-half)
England’s captain is instrumental whether at 10 or 12. His goalkicking is metronomic and he has tweaked his defensive technique to avoid being penalised in Japan.
Manu Tuilagi (centre)
Tuilagi is the centre of England’s power game. Heavy ball carrying, and ferocious defence make him a real handful.
Billy Vunipola (number 8)
The heaviest member of the squad, Billy gives the side tremendous go-forward from the base of the scrum.
Joe Cokanasiga and Mark Wilson (both knee) look doubtful for England’s opening game against Tonga, with both players unable to take part in full training. Mako Vunipola (hamstring) and Jack Nowell (ankle) missed all England’s warm-up matches and have already been ruled out of the pool games with Tonga and USA. Centre Henry Slade (knee) also missed the warm-up games but could be fit.
Guide to Japan
England first set foot in their luxurious hotel and training facility on Tuesday September 10. Located in Miyazaki, the complex includes a private pitch, 13 restaurants and four spas.
Coach Eddie Jones says the humidity—which recently reached 90% in the southern city—is something the team have prepared for and the players have adjusted well.
Weather won’t be an issue for the team’s opening match against Tonga on Sunday, which will be played under a closed roof in the northern city of Sapporo.
Coach and captain
Eddie Jones has called on his side to change ‘the whole course of history’, whilst pointing to potential ‘financial benefits’ and ‘personal happiness’ of a momentous World Cup victory. Meanwhile, England captain Owen Farrell focused on the need to be ‘adaptable’ and ‘proactive’ and believes the side’s resilience will aid them in Japan.
Route to final
Win Pool C
Semi-final: New Zealand
Final: Wales/Ireland/South Africa
Runner-Up in Pool C
Semi-final: Ireland/South Africa
Final: New Zealand
Following gruelling training camps in Bristol, Bagshot, Teddington and Treviso, England are full of confidence. Three victories from four warm-up games; a record-breaking success over Ireland (57-15) and victories against Wales (33-19) and Italy (37-0), was tarnished only by a defeat to Wales (13-6) in Cardiff.
Previous World Cups
Australia 2003: Champions
France 2007: Runners-up to South Africa
New Zealand 2011: Eliminated by France in the quarter-final
England 2015: Lost to Australia and Wales, eliminated in the pool stage
Key to success
If England can keep their main stars fit and find the right balance in the backrow and the midfield they will be serious contenders to lift the trophy.