Brian O’Driscoll feels England have “all the attributes” to win a Rugby World Cup, making Eddie Jones’ side a “huge threat” in Japan.
England have one World Cup warm-up match remaining against Italy at Newcastle’s St James’ Park this week, having impressed in recent weeks with home victories over Wales and Ireland.
The defeat of Ireland was particularly striking, with Jones’ men running up a record margin of victory over one of the world’s best sides.
Manu Tuilagi, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola all starred in that victory and retired Ireland great O’Driscoll, who played at four World Cups, was impressed.
“I feel as if England are in a phenomenal position at the moment,” O’Driscoll, a Land Rover ambassador, told Omnisport. “They are playing great stuff, they’ve got all their main players fit and in rude health, they’re trying different combinations.
“If they can go into it with a limited injury list off the back of the final game against Italy, I think they are really humming at the moment and they’ll be a very, very difficult team to beat.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) August 24, 2019
“They look fit, they look strong, powerful, good variety to their game.
“I think they’ve got all the attributes we’ve seen in other previous World Cup-winning teams if they’re able to implement that on the big stage. I think they’ll be a huge threat.”
Jamie Heaslip, O’Driscoll’s ex-Ireland team-mate, similarly sees England challenging in Japan, suggesting injuries have prevented the team from getting the credit they deserve previously.
“Ireland, England and Wales have shown their form over the last two years – particularly England in the last 12 months,” said Heaslip, also a Land Rover ambassador.
“People forgot they had a lot of players who were injured. They have a very fit squad right now available for selection.
“Look at Manu Tuilagi and his impact [against Ireland]. You’ve got Billy Vunipola, who impacts the game at number eight, and Joe Marler and the difference he makes.”
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) August 25, 2019
As a former number eight, Heaslip has paid particular attention to Vunipola and the balance England have been able to strike in their back row with Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.
“Billy carries unbelievably well – he’s so dynamic for such a big man, he’s fast, he’s got really good footwork – so you need balance,” he said.
“I think you saw that [against Ireland]. There was a really balanced back row. That’s going to be the trick for Eddie Jones in the back row, finding that balance.
“You can’t just carry the ball, you need guys who rook, guys who do some hard yard work at times, and I think England have a very vast pack to be able to do that.
“They’ve got some players who are really dynamic and I look at that England back row and it’s pretty formidable.”
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