England in disarray going into Rugby World Cup after shock Fiji defeat – latest reaction
Hello and welcome to coverage of England’s final warm-up match before the World Cup as they desperately seek some confidence before travelling to France.
Defence coach Kevin Sinfield insists the players have remained united despite being buffeted by multiple setbacks before the tournament has even begun.
Fiji’s visit to Twickenham completes a build-up that has seen England’s record deteriorate to four defeats in five matches, leaving them bereft of form ahead of their pivotal Pool D clash with Argentina on September 9.
Some of the challenges facing Steve Borthwick’s men – such as the bans for high tackles issued to Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola – have been of their own making, but injury has struck too.
Anthony Watson has followed Jack van Poortvliet out of the original 33-man squad named by Borthwick and there are concerns over two more frontline stars in Tom Curry and Elliot Daly.
But Sinfield insists that despite the adversity, the squad is showing no signs of splintering into cliques.
“We were a tight group already, but how you handle those setbacks and those obstacles are really important to how the team moves forward and how the team functions,” defence coach Sinfield said.
“After each one of those blows – if you call them that – we’ve got back up and gone again. We’ll continue to do that. These obstacles will continue to bring us closer together.
“In another group, in one that wasn’t as experienced or as hungry to do well, it might have been really, really challenging for us.
”When things start to pull apart there are fractures – groups start to break off and spend time together, sitting together and having separate meetings. There is none of that.
“They are very much together. Meal time shows you a lot of that – where people sit, the time they spend together. And on the field, how hard they work.
“Performances haven’t been where they have needed to be, but we are having constructive conversations too. The players are working together and nobody is blaming anybody – they are the signs that let you know we have a good group.”