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England camp deny players are being held back

By PA
Press Association

Attack coach Martin Gleeson denies that England are holding anything back in attack after a lacklustre showing against Los Pumas in the first of their Autumn Nation Series Tests.

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Eddie Jones’ side host Japan at Twickenham on Saturday with the goal of delivering an immediate response after falling 30-29 to Argentina, their first loss to the Pumas since 2009.

Knowing they are on the back foot with New Zealand and South Africa next up in the Autumn Nations Series, they have used their experiences Down Under in July as inspiration.

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The tour ended with a 2-1 series victory but only once England had recovered from collapsing to defeat in the opener by producing an emphatic high-octane victory in Brisbane that had shades of the 2019 World Cup.

England’s attack failed to ignite against Argentina, a recurring shortcoming that is in urgent need of fixing with the World Cup only 12 Tests away.

Gleeson insists the greatest concern was not finishing off the chances created and rejected the notion that players operate in a straitjacket of pre-programmed instructions.

“We want to attack better this week and be a little more direct, and then when the opportunities come out wide we want to take them,” Gleeson said.

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“The pleasing thing is we are getting in those areas and we are causing teams problems. It’s just that last little bit of the puzzle that we’re working on.

“We’re working hard on that and I don’t think we’re too far away. The more the players play together and the more experienced they are, the better we will get.

England attack
Owen Farrell laughs at a training session in Pennyhill /PA

“No one ever speaks about errors here, no one ever speaks about making mistakes. We want to be as aggressive as we can with our attack. No one says otherwise, there’s a bit of a preconception about that.

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“We want the boys to play what they see and be as aggressive and full of intent as they can be.

“Of course they can go off script. We want to play a certain way, which is what we’re building from the summer, but if players see something they’ve got to take it – we want to take it.”

Jack van Poortvliet insists England aim to play with freedom when they evoke the spirit of their summer tour to Australia to revive their autumn.

Van Poortvliet, the 21-year-old rookie who has replaced Leicester team-mate Ben Youngs at scrum-half, believes a fast start will help address any hesitancy.

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“There has been an appreciation of the common things in both first Tests – the one against Argentina last weekend and the one against Australia. We have spoken about them and addressed them,” Van Poortvliet said.

“We have a clear focus. We want to free ourselves up, play with real excitement and make sure we are not overthinking things. We want to be excited by the challenge.

“To free yourself up you have got to be on the front foot and our challenge is how can we get on the front foot early.

“It’s a mindset and for us we want to hit the ground running and bring that real physicality and aggression.”

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