England issue Tom Curry update; explain why defence has been so leaky
Kevin Sinfield has hinted that Tom Curry is ready to play for England at the Rugby World Cup after an absence that affected their defence during the recent Summer Nations Series. Steve Borthwick’s side arrived in France having won just one of their four matches in August and worryingly leaked a pile of tries in their warm-ups versus Wales (twice), Ireland and Fiji.
Those games took place with Curry being unavailable for selection. It emerged on August 11 that he had rolled an ankle at training and that injury resulted in him travelling across the Channel last Thursday as the only member of the 33-strong England squad not to have played a single minute of their four-game warm-up programme.
Assistant coach Sinfield, though, has delivered an encouraging update on Curry’s status, suggesting he is line to play this Saturday versus Argentina despite not featuring in selection last month. “Everybody has trained again today [Tuesday] so clean bill of health. Everybody is ready,” insisted Sinfield from England base camp in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage.
Asked specifically about Curry and his availability, Sinfield continued: “To be at this stage given the bumps and bruises we have had over the last few weeks, we are in a really good position so it’s great to see him out there. He has been really good. I have mentioned back rows before to you and how important they are to our defence, yeah he has been excellent.”
But can he play against Argentina with no warm-up minutes behind him? “We have no doubt about that. He has got a number of caps under his belt now and he has been doing it for years. He can play a number of positions across the back row for us so delighted he is available.”
One follow-up question initially stumped Sinfield. After getting asked why the England defence hadn’t been putting its best foot forward, an awkward silence filled the media room. Bear in mind the England defence under Sinfield’s watch since the start of 2023 had conceded 30 tries in nine matches.
Eventually, an answer came, the defence coach suggesting: “Good question. It really helps having Tom Curry back available. Some of the suspensions that we have had to contend with over the last couple of weeks certainly haven’t helped.
“Some of the back row changes we have had to make probably haven’t helped too. I do see a team here that are improving, I do see a team that are getting better.
“I also understand and I am very realistic we have not been good enough so far so we are working incredibly hard to be better this week and I have complete belief and confidence in the group where we are going.
“I have seen a very slight change in how we have gone about our business this week and we needed to have that change. We needed to make that adjustment but I have to say I have really enjoyed my time with the guys.
“I have not been happy with the results, I have not been happy with the tries we have conceded but I do understand as well where we are going and I really enjoy working with the guys and I believe in them.
“It’s great to be here. The boys have worked incredibly hard over the last 12 weeks. To be here in the sunshine in September is quite unique, isn’t it? We are looking forward you what is to come, a huge challenge at the weekend.
“We feel like we haven’t hit our straps at all and we have not performed well enough but we know and have seen the growth in this team and we have seen it on the training field for some time now. We’re looking forward to the weekend.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 5, 2023
“We have been quite clear over August that those Test matches meant something to us so to be one (win) from four is disappointing for us, we don’t feel it justified how well we have trained.
“But I also understand as a defensive coach we have also got to be better as well, we can’t concede as many tries as we have but the boys have worked incredibly hard to fix that. We’ll look forward to taking a big step this weekend.”
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