England vs Argentina
9:00am Saturday 5th October
England’s Rugby World Cup campaign starts on Saturday when they face Argentina in what they expect and hope to be first of five progressively hard games.
Eddie Jones couldn’t hide his delight in unusually a full group of 31 to pick from and also reaching this point of the tournament with the USA under his belt and bonus-point wins over Tonga.
No rapid turnarounds – only a string of tests every weekend against tier one nations.
Victory on the Pumas will secure top spot in Pool C and a likely.
Unsurprisingly, Jones was dismissive of people who were underwhelmed with their opening screens – matches that will be forgotten if they go on to triumph or even hit the final.
“We are in a terrific position,” he said. “It’s similar to the Tour de France. We’ve gone through phase one. Now we get off the bike just a bit, refuel and then then we move into phase two and we go again.
“Then we have got phase three, five and four. You do not need to be in the yellow jersey now; you have to be in it at the time it counts”
Jones, of course, won’t be allowing his players to look beyond Saturday’s experience, and it would be a enormous upset if England stuttered though he moved through the conventional routine of piling praise on his competitors.
Argentina’s victory over Tonga was their very first after 10 successive defeats, for example their opener Japan from France that probably put paid for their eligibility expects 80 minutes to the tournament.
The current side have been a shadow of the team who have won just five of their last 33 games and attained the semi-finals four years back.
They showed flashes of quality and were too powerful for Tonga but nevertheless seem ill-equipped to prevent a 10th defeat by England.
They will certainly be motivated, knowing defeat would almost surely rubber-stamp their departure, and former skipper Agustin Creevy said the match will be”just like a war, like a final for us”.
Creevy, who’s likely to acquire an undercover album 88th cap off the seat on Saturday, also channelled the traditional”we are prouder than you” mantra so many clubs wheeled out when facing England.
“If we put on this shirt we all believe something different. It’s our loved ones, our country, my heart. We perform together, the team is actually bonded,” he explained.
“We love each other, and I believe that’s different to other teams. We are brothers, inside and away from the field.”
A national anthem and a number of hugs, but are not likely to be anything like enough to unseat England, and instead his other claim – the favourites play boring, programmed rugby – will have a great deal more related to the result.
England power-prop Mako Vunipola, who has played 17 minutes since suffering a hamstring injury in May, will be eased back into action.
However, Jones will expect scrum parity where Argentina have slipped from their heights.
He seems settled on George Ford at Owen Farrell and fly-half with the two men seeking to feed out center Manu Tuilagi and a harmful back three, in 12.
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Luke 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jack Nowell.
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matas Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Santiago Carreras, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Toms Cubelli; 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, two Julian Montoya, 3 Juan Figallo, 4 Guido Petti, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Javier Ortega Desio.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Mayco Vivas 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra 23 Bautista Delguy.