Stuart Lancaster today warned his England players they face a “quality” Fiji team capable of ruining their World Cup dream in the opening game of the tournament.
The England coach and assistant Andy Farrell were among the spectators as Fiji scored five tries in a 47-18 victory against Canada at the Twickenham Stoop yesterday.
Lancaster will spend this week highlighting the dangers posed by Fiji, who his side face in 11 days’ time before matches against Australia, Wales and Uruguay in what is being described as the ‘Pool of Death’.
Lancaster said: “Everyone talks to me about Wales and Australia, but it is Fiji only for me. They will be happy going into the match as underdogs.
“They have been in camp a long time and won the Pacific Nations Cup and performed well against Canada, winning all their lineout ball and scrummaging strongly.
“They also have the flair players to back this up. We will be aiming to use much quicker line speed than Canada produced to put them under pressure, but they are a quality team.”
Lancaster has taken heart from England’s improved showing in their final warm-up game against Six Nations champions Ireland, which they won 21-13. He added: “It’s a good position to be in going into the Fiji game. But [beating Ireland] counts for nothing now. We’ve got to put all our focus and energy into delivering a better performance against Fiji.”
Fiji have lost all five previous matches against England, with the teams having last met at Twickenham in 2012, when the hosts won 54-12. However, Fiji coach John McKee today insisted his team can ruin England’s World Cup party and qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
McKee, who has been able to select the majority of his top players from leading European teams, said: “We know what a good side England are and we need to be at our absolute best to topple them, but we have the belief we can do well.