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England admit what they've learned from losing to Fiji

By PA
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Fiji celebrate their historic victory at the final whistle during the Summer International match between England and Fiji at Twickenham Stadium on August 26, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ollie Chessum has warned Fiji that they did not face the true England in their historic victory at Twickenham in August.

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England’s build-up to the World Cup reached its lowest ebb when they lost to the Islanders for the first time in eight meetings, at the same time registering a fifth defeat in six Tests.

They have since regrouped by stitching together four wins to finish top of Pool D and their next obstacle is the rematch when the rivals clash in the quarter-finals in Marseille on Sunday.

“Fiji bring a lot of free-flowing rugby and a lot of offloading. They’re big, powerful men that come off the back fence and they’re a physical team,” Leicester lock Chessum said.

“They picked us apart, really, at Twickenham. We weren’t really ourselves – we weren’t anywhere near good enough.

“A few weeks have gone by since then and we’ve learned from our mistakes. We feel like we’ve been building nicely. We know what to expect from Fiji.”

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England’s preparations for the last-eight showdown begin in earnest on Tuesday and they are in the enviable position of operating with a clean bill of health.

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Sam Underhill has joined up with the squad after Jack Willis was ruled out of the tournament by a neck injury and the Bath flanker is in contention for a place in the matchday 23 named by Steve Borthwick on Friday.

The prize on offer is a semi-final against France or South Africa and defence coach Kevin Sinfield has urged England’s players to seize the moment.

“I think these are the best weeks. There’s certainly an added pressure. If you don’t get it right you are going home,” rugby league great Sinfield said.

“I know everyone has missed home throughout this period but when you get to this point you are not ready for the competition to finish.

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“You want to squeeze as much as you can out of it and you want to be in it for as long as you can. We look forward to the game.

“We understand the consequences of getting it right and we also understand the consequences of getting it wrong, so we will be doing everything we can to make sure we get it right.”

Knockout

New Zealand
South Africa
11 - 12
Final
Argentina
New Zealand
6 - 44
SF1
England
South Africa
15 - 16
SF2
Wales
Argentina
17 - 29
QF1
Ireland
New Zealand
24 - 28
QF2
England
Fiji
30 - 24
QF3
France
South Africa
28 - 29
QF4
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J
Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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