Portsmouth director of rugby discusses the early skirmishes at the World Cup.
I think England’s opening win over Fiji went as expected in many ways.
There has been criticism levelled at the performance but I did not think England would run away with the win and overachieve.
The first game is always going to bring huge pressure, what with the opening ceremony before and I don’t think you could really expect any more.
Fiji are a half-decent side and like other second-tier nations – like headline-snatching Japan – it takes until the last quarter of the game to wear them down and really gain dominance.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s big game with Wales it looks as though England have decided to meet fire with fire.
Warren Gatland plays a pretty straightforward game in terms of smashing it up, so he would certainly be targeting the 10 channel the same as Fiji did.
As a result, Owen Farrell will come in for George Ford for England.
When the game breaks down a bit later on, I expect Ford to come on.
It’s an interesting tactical change from Stuart Lancaster.
It depends how you want to look at the game and whether you look at what you can do or instead focus on how the opposition play and how you can line up against them.
It seems they have looked a little more into how Wales are going to play rather than how they are going to play.
That said, England will be favourites to win – especially with all the injuries Wales have had.
And a win will be good enough – the pressure will not be on to score the four tires which really would be a bonus.
Talking of England and bonuses, one of the big conversation starters is the favourable draw England have been given.
They played last Friday and are not playing again until tomorrow, so have had a full week to recover.
Opponents Fiji, meanwhile, had to play on Wednesday – as did Japan – and the quick turnaround showed in their performances and defeats.
It’s tough on them but the draw seems to favour the higher-tier nations.
The World Cup is meant to be in England but where do Wales play Fiji and Australia?
They play them in Cardiff.
That’s not by chance, it is to do with revenue of course but that is one of the things that remains contentious.