Eddie Jones gets England selection right with bold George Ford decision – Jason Robinson | Rugby | Sport


George Ford will be feeling desperately disappointed but I think Eddie Jones has got this selection and his strategy right for Australia. I like the dynamic he has gone for.

Everybody wants to start – you want to be in from the first whistle – but it looks to me like a deliberate two-pronged approach from Jones. Rip the door off its hinges with his starting 15 and then send the bench men in through the hole.

Physically, England will want to get stuck into Australia early on and then play more rugby later on when Ford will have a role to play off the bench. Hopefully he will have the satisfaction of helping to put the Wallabies away.

It is a tough call on Ford as he has been playing well at this World Cup but it is a real luxury for England to be able to call on someone who is in such good form.

The Tuilagi/Slade midfield partnership was in place for the Six Nations so we know it works and the advantage of having Owen Farrell in the No 10 shirt is that it gives England a stand-off who can defend like a back row forward.

Farrell hasn’t been at his best yet in this tournament but he hasn’t needed to be. Big games like these bring out the best in players like Farrell. We’ve seen him under pressure before. And he loves it. He thrives on it.

Australia haven’t been great so far this World Cup and they will need to front up or they could lose quite heavily but I fully expect a significant uplift against England.

The two nations have met six times at World Cups with three wins apiece and this has all the makings of another classic but I fancy England to reach the semifinal.

The quarterfinal stage at a World Cup is a cliff-edge. Win and whatever happens you are staying for the duration with a third-place play-off as well as the final in the schedule. Lose and you are out of there the next day. Four years of planning and hard work gone in a flash.

The stark reality of that was spelled out to us in 2003 at half time against Wales when, 10-3 down, Clive Woodward told us that if things didn’t improve we were on our way home. Fortunately we did.

In 2007 England had been rubbish but we somehow beat Australia and France knocked out New Zealand. The whole dynamic of the tournament changed.

It is a mouthwatering quartet of games this time around. I don’t see any of them as foregone conclusions. I haven’t been as excited about a rugby weekend in years.

Ireland might live in hope that they can catch New Zealand cold with the world champions not having been in a serious game for a month but I fear that won’t be the reality.

Wales though have a golden opportunity against a French side that has spluttered through this tournament.

I can’t wait to watch Japan against South Africa. Japan have set this World Cup alight. The control of the ball and the pace at which they play has been spellbinding. They have almost been superhuman.

They will have every neutral and every other team left at the tournament behind them. The question is whether, having achieved their goal of reaching the last eight for the first time, they can keep the magic carpet airborne?

I think ultimately South Africa might have a little too much for them and I expect the semifinal line-up to look like this – England v New Zealand and Wales v South Africa.

Jason Robinson is an ambassador for Fuzion100, the official rehydration partner of England Rugby. Find out more at CoCofuzion100.co.uk.


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