Most of England’s players are struggling to find their best form under the intense pressure of a home Rugby World Cup.
They should be flourishing under this support and buoyed by the feel-good factor, but instead they seem to be burdened by it. The hosts squandered a 10-point lead as Wales won 28-25 at Twickenham, and defeat on 3 October could all but end their hopes of qualifying from Pool A.
England’s must-win World Cup match with Australia is “as big as it gets”, says England assistant coach Andy Farrell.
“For 55 minutes we were on top and played good rugby,” he said.
“We’re all devastated with the result and we need to understand the reasons why and learn the lessons.
“But we’ve moved on to Australia quickly. It’s full steam ahead and this should be the best week of the players’ lives.”
England, who led 22-12 with 30 minutes left, opted not to attempt a late penalty that would have secured a draw in their second Pool A game. Captain Chris Robshaw, after consulting with team-mates, instead chose to kick for a five-metre line-out as England pushed for a match-winning try.
“This game against Australia is as big as it gets and we’re desperate to give a performance and be worthy winners.”
England prop Joe Marler says the team have reviewed their performance but will not dwell on the Wales defeat.
“We let ourselves and a lot of people down but we have to concentrate on the job in hand – we can’t afford to sulk,” he said.