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Itoje, George verdict on England's style-over-substance approach

By PA
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Maro Itoje has insisted that England will do whatever it takes to win if a substance-over-style approach emerges as their blueprint for success at the Rugby World Cup.

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George Ford kicked all 27 points in their rout of Argentina last Saturday as England responded to the third-minute dismissal of Tom Curry for a dangerous tackle by grinding the Pumas into submission.

It was a rousing riposte to a dismal warm-up campaign but having excelled in defence and shown the smarts to shape their gameplan according to events, a potent attack remains elusive.

Free-running Japan are the next assignment at the Stade de Nice on Sunday and while Itoje would prefer to see England run riot, he will take a victory any way it comes.

When asked if it matters how the team win, Itoje said: “For me, it’s by any means necessary.

Team Form

Last 5 Games

3
Wins
2
1
Streak
1
13
Tries Scored
15
-5
Points Difference
-19
2/5
First Try
1/5
2/5
First Points
1/5
1/5
Race To 10 Points
2/5

“Obviously, we like to score tries and we would like to score loads of tries. But for me, it is by any means necessary as long as we get the win. Every game is different and is going to present different challenges. The task is to find ways to get on the positive side of the result.

“We know Japan move the ball. We know they are a very clever team that comes up with clever plays. However, the goal and task is to enforce an English style of rugby on this game.

“We want to show our best hand and we want to defend it well. We want to impose our physicality. We want to get into our set-piece game and when the opportunity is right our generals will fire us in attack. Yes. Japan move the ball, but it is about us imposing our will on them.

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“Japan run the ball more than Argentina and are very aggressive with how they play and the spirit and the energy of how they play.”

Japan are not the force that lit up the 2019 World Cup with the pandemic hitting them harder than any other international side as they were prevented from playing a Test for two years.

If, as expected, England dispatch a team who have fallen to 14th in the global rankings they will have clear sight of a place in the quarter-finals with group games against Chile and Samoa left to play.

But Jamie George accepts that if they are to progress further in the competition, they must develop more strings to their bow. “If we are going to win a World Cup, which is what we are here to do, we know that we are going to have to kick on from where we were,” George said.

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“The great English teams that I watched growing up and that I have been a part of based their teams around great defence and great set-piece.

“As long as we are doing that I think our attacking game flows off the back of that. We have got players who can do special things. You have just seen the start of us in this tournament. We hope you will see us score points in different ways.”

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Bob Marler 278 days ago

This all sounds very familiar. Queue all the criticism about boring rugby. And go.

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Shaylen 9 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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