Rugby World Cup final: England show their hand
England too have stuck to their guns and have named an unchanged squad for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against South Africa in Yokohama.
Coach Eddie Jones has resisted the temptation to tinker with a proven team and has given the thumbs up to the midfield axis of George Ford‚ Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi.
England played Ford from the bench for their quarterfinal match against Australia‚ limiting the time he would potentially spend in the path of barrel chested Wallaby inside centre Samu Kerevi.
It was thought Jones might do the same as Damian de Allende will most likely charge down Ford’s channel.
Ford‚ however‚ is a main stay in the England team and much of the traffic revolves around him. He dictates much of their play leaving Farrell to perform more destructive acts.
England however will take some risk into the final with scrumhalf Ben Youngs and tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler carrying niggles.
In the case of Youngs it could become problematic‚ especially after reserve scrumhalf Willi Heinz was ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring injury.
He was replaced in the squad by Ben Spencer who only arrived in Japan on Monday. Spencer is on the bench on Saturday.
Coach Jones‚ however‚ is confident England is fighting fit for the big match.
“One of the great things about this squad‚ and it’s a great credit to the players own hard work‚ physically they are fit‚ they work hard on rehabbing their injuries – we now have 32 players in the squad and only one unavailable‚" he said.
“If you look at our record over the last five or six games we’ve had close to 90 per cent of the squad available‚ so the players have worked hard.
“We’ve got great medical staff‚ we’ve got great strength and conditioning staff‚ so the players are in great nick. Kyle Sinckler is going to be absolutely buzzing at the weekend‚ he’ll be out there ready to go.”
Outside the fitness of his players Jones was upbeat about the England’s long journey to the final.
“We’ve had four years to prepare for this game. We’ve got good tactical clarity about how we want to play‚ we're fit‚ we're enjoying the tournament - the only sadness is that the tournament is going to end.
“We know South Africa aren’t going to give us the game‚ they are going to come hard. We’ve got meet their physicality but we are looking forward to that and being able to impose our game on them.
“We can definitely play better‚ there's no doubt about it. The players know that‚" he said.
"I have been so impressed by the preparation of players throughout the tournament and particularly this week‚ there’s a steeliness about them but also a nice relaxed feeling because they know they've done the work so they can get on with the job.
“It’s all to happen on Saturday‚ isn't it? That's the great thing. We are like any team‚ we are a bit anxious‚ a bit nervous but also very excited about the prospect of playing even better.”
England team to play South Africa:
Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson‚ Manu Tuilagi‚ Owen Farrell‚ Jonny May; George Ford‚ Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola‚ Sam Underhill‚ Tom Curry; Courtney Lawes‚ Maro Itoje; Kyle Sinckler‚ Jamie George‚ Mako Vunipola.
Luke Cowan-Dickie‚ Joe Marler‚ Dan Cole‚ George Kruis‚ Mark Wilson; Ben Spencer‚ Henry Slade‚ Jonathan Joseph.