Elliot Daly is in an exclusive club of two as the countdown continues towards England’s eagerly awaited Rugby World Cup campaign.
Normally, it doesn’t take a player too long to hit the ground running at a new club from one season to the next. There’s usually just the four-week break in between teams and off you go again.
World Cup year is different, however, and the gap is enormous due to time away on international duty.
The curtain fell on Daly’s final season at Wasps in mid-May and if England go all the way at the finals in Japan, it will be mid-November before the full-back-cum-winger properly starts getting his feet under the table at Saracens, the club that also has fringe England hooker Jack Singleton joining from Worcester.
Daly’s new surroundings at Allianz Park won’t be completely alien to him. He managed to squeeze a visit in earlier this summer to try and get his bearings. But that memory will be fleeting by the time he is actually in a position to go to work on a daily basis post-World Cup with the Londoners.
? RISING SONS: Episode 4
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) July 30, 2019
“I went into Sarries for a day just to train on my own when we had some stuff to do, but it was just good to see the environment and speak to some of the boys,” explained the 26-year-old about a switch that ended his nine-season spell at Wasps.
“I have spoken to a few of the lads here (in England camp) but I probably spoke to them before more about it. Now it’s just having a few chats but thinking mostly about the World Cup.
“Hopefully things go well here and I end up going to Japan, but it’s always in the back of your mind. I’m really forward to getting down there… it is right for me to have a new challenge and I’m looking forward to that.”
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) February 5, 2019
Daly had still to make his England debut when the last World Cup took place. However, he is arriving into this edition with spruced-up credentials after laying claim to the No15 shirt this past year having previously come of age on the wing when forcing his way into the 2017 Lions Test series team in New Zealand.
England may be only a week away from playing their first warm-up match for the finals, but the general approach in training so far this summer is flexibility, leaving Daly unsure yet where he might fit in for RWC.
“I haven’t got much (of a feeling) at the moment. Eddie likes people to chop and change during training and I really like that as well.
“You need to know if you’re playing full-back what the wingers are doing and if you’re playing centre what the full-back and wings are doing.
“It’s just fluid at the moment. Training has been really competitive and we have been in and out of stuff. We haven’t really gone to positions, it has just been going out and play.”
There will be no holding back when the friendlies start. The temptation surely exists for injury-conscious players to not go full metal jacket in the series of matches that commence with next Sunday’s Twickenham clash versus Wales, but Daly isn’t one for the softly-softly approach.
“Everyone at the moment is actually really looking forward to these games to show what we can do and try and get that team cohesion we have been looking at in the last sort of three, four weeks of training together.
“If you start thinking not getting injured, not doing that, then that is when you tend to get injured, stuff doesn’t seem to go as you would wish. But the way we are looking at these games is to really improve before the World Cup and put our best foot forward.
“It [facing rivals Wales] will definitely have the same effect. Every time we play Wales it is a brilliant atmosphere, always a great crowd vibe, and it’s always a great game. I have played Wales in end-of-season games, sort of June time before, so yeah, I don’t think it will be different to when we are playing them in Six Nations.
At a loose end next Tuesday? ?
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) August 2, 2019
“It’s a Test match at the end of the day so the intensity will be brought. Definitely, it will be similar to a Six Nations game. It’s an international game.
“You can’t be talking about not going for those games, especially as there is only four games before the World Cup starts. We will be hopefully bringing intensity in those games and seeing where we get to.
“You play whatever team is in front of you. Attack-wise and defence, particularly defence you can only defend what is being thrown at you, so it’s just putting your principles in place.
“Attack-wise you want to put your stamp on the game whether it’s you want to run this move or that, so it’s all in your control. We want to put in the systems we have been practising over the last couple of months.”
WATCH: Part one of Operation Jaypan, the two-part RugbyPass documentary on what the fans can expect to experience at the World Cup in Japan
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