'Toothy' England ready to go the distance, warns Youngs
Oita (Japan) (AFP) –
England's rocky recent World Cup record will count for nothing when they lock horns with fierce rivals Australia in Saturday's crunch quarter-final, insists Ben Youngs.
The Leicester scrum-half warned Friday that Eddie Jones's side were a different animal to the 2015 flops -- who became the first World Cup hosts to crash out in the pool stage -- and would be ready for anything the Wallabies throw at them in Oita.
"Obviously if you compare it to 2015 it's very different," said Youngs, also one of four England players this weekend who were involved when they were eliminated by France in the 2011 quarter-finals.
"For us what's happened in the past, what's happened between now and then, is irrelevant. It's just a one-off game and we're prepping to bring the best out of us tomorrow."
England's 33-13 defeat by Australia ultimately cost them a place in the knockout stage four years ago under Stuart Lancaster's doomed stewardship.
Despite a six-game losing streak against England, defiant Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has backed his players to spring another upset, declaring: "The fear inside us is dead."
But Youngs believes the two weeks England have spent in Miyazaki preparing after last week's devastating typhoon washed out their final pool fixture against France, has helped their cause.
"We've certainly been able to get our teeth into Australia a lot earlier," he said.
"We feel fresh and we feel ready to go. We basically have to make sure we take the game to them, get ourselves on the front foot and come out with an intensity that marries up with our preparation," added Youngs.
"The waiting's over now. It's great that so many people will be cheering (in England) tomorrow, up early, wearing the shirt -- we certainly feed off that and it helps the belief within the side."
- 'Fantastic occasion' -
Youngs started in England's 19-12 loss to France the last time they reached a World Cup quarter-final and predicts that building an early lead will be key against Australia.
"It's a fantastic occasion, I was lucky to play in one," he said. "I suppose my experience of that is just making sure the intensity of the game doesn't shock you at the beginning.
"I imagine the first 20 minutes will be pretty full-on, so we've got to make sure we get off to the start that we want."
With captain Owen Farrell switching to fly-half in place of George Ford, Jones selected a fit-again Henry Slade alongside Manu Tuilagi in a dynamic midfield pairing.
"Henry is massive for us," said Tuilagi. "He can play, he can run, he can kick -- he's an all-rounder. For him to be back just adds a massive part to our game, especially with Faz at 10."
Samurai imagery has been all the rage at this World Cup, but Youngs flashed a sheepish grin when asked if former Jones, previously coach of Japan, had asked the players to summon the warrior spirit this weekend.
"It's not easy without a samurai sword," he said. "But we've got some boys in this team who don't know when they're beat. Everyone involved is going to fight right to the end."
© 2019 AFP