England are in the “shape of their lives” for their opening Rugby World Cup match, according to forwards coach Graham Rowntree.
Twickenham will be a cauldron of noise and expectation on Friday night when the hosts entertain Fiji to kick off the competition.
The South Pacific islanders may be underdogs but the English say they have not underestimated their opponents. England will need to be wary of being caught out on set-pieces as the Fijians’ physical strength could pose problems.
England comfortably won their last warm-up match against Ireland but prop Dan Cole is expecting something different from Fiji.
“Oh yes, we have done our work on set-pieces,” he told reporters at a news conference. “You know it wasn’t up to scratch so as forwards we have been working hard for the past two weeks to try to rectify those situations.”
Fiji have lost all five previous games against England but are not short of confidence themselves and come into the match fresh from winning the Pacific Nations Cup last month.
They also boast a Jonah Lomu-style wrecking ball in the shape of winger Nemani Nadolo who is measures 1.98cm and weighs nearly 130 kilograms.
Whatever shocks lie in store, the deafening din of the home crowd shouldn’t be one of them. Fiji have been training against a backdrop of English voices to accustom themselves to what lies ahead after kick-off.
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