England scrum new beast after World Cup lesson

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

England’s World Cup loss to Australia was one of the worst days in their front row’s history but prop Mako Vunipola says they’re not out for revenge this weekend.

While England has tried to put the game out of their minds, Vunipola admitted it was a low point for the English forwards, mostly because of their rigidity.

“I think it was up there definitely,” he said.

“It wasn’t really how they dealt with us in the scrum but more we couldn’t adjust to it.

“We’ve got some experienced players in the front row in this team and very confident that if that situation arises again we’ve got the right people in the right places to make the adjustments needed.”

While the England scrum was ravaged in the post-match analysis of that World Cup clash, it’s far from the only area in which they were beaten, though prop Dan Cole said the scrum performance went a way to changing the perception of the traditonal strengths between Northern and Southern Hemisphere teams.

The English front row say they're ready for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty ImagesNow with their own Australian weapon in Eddie Jones, Cole said the two teams were probably moving in from the historic extremes.

“You look at the way the game evolves and you find, you realise you can have a set piece game and a free flowing game and sometimes the free flowing game works but the set piece can beat you and vice versa,” he said.

“There’s a happy medium to be found. Australia has traditionally been this (attacking) end of the spectrum, but now with Cheika on board they’ve brought more set piece and got a better scrum and maul.

“Whereas we’ve probably traditionally had good set piece, good maul and trying to play a bit more so you find the medium in the middle.

“Your national game is going to sway your national team but both teams strive for that medium.”

Centre Jonathan Joseph said the side would welcome a dry track at Suncorp Stadium, surely spelling a free-flowing game.

“I think we’ve got some talented players in our own squad that would flourish on a pitch like that so for us it’s exciting.

“We know they’ve got some great players but equally we’ve got some very good players that can impose themselves on the game.”

Jonathan Joseph is confident England can show flair. Photo: Getty ImagesAustralia has an intimidating record in Brisbane, a city in which England has never won and Cole said there was no coincidence that fortress was chosen first, after a similarly hostile welcome in Perth in 2006.

“They understand their weaknesses and strengths of the opposition they're able to play the game the way they want it to be played.

“In Perth we had a lot of set piece dominance and still lost.

“You don’t want to be 1-0 behind.

“Australia is historically very strong in  Brisbane, we know they’ve got a very good record there we know you want to start series in the best possible way.”