Skysports columnist Will Greenwood is confident England can win the World Cup on home soil and believes they will demolish Fiji in their opening game.
Stuart Lancaster’s side bounced back from a below-par showing against France in Paris to convincingly defeat RBS 6 Nations champions Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.
Greenwood was hugely encouraged by the manner of England’s performance and believes the World Cup hosts have an excellent chance of emerging from a difficult Pool A – which also contains Wales and Australia – and going deep into the tournament.
“I’ve always felt they could win this World Cup at home at Twickenham,” Greenwood said. “What the game also highlighted was there was clearly a lot of pressure in Paris.
“There were 39 men in the squad. They were not sure who was making the cut and therefore they were afraid of making mistakes.
“We’ve not gone from the world’s worst team against France to the world’s best team against Ireland but what we have done is settle the nerves. They are happy now and cannot wait for the Fiji game.”
When asked if Fiji have any chance against England, Greenwood said: “Absolutely no chance. I think England’s structure, defensive prowess and set-piece excellence will frustrate the Fijians.
“I am super confident. I think it will be a 30 or 40 point win. It might be five or eight points at half-time but I think England’s unity and self-belief will take them through and set them up for the Wales game a week later.”
While England left Twickenham with plenty to cheerful about, Irish fans will be concerned by one of the worst performances of Joe Schmidt’s tenure as head coach.
Despite the poor showing, Greenwood is not concerned about the Irish and believes they remain well poised to mount a credible challenge to win their first ever World Cup.
“It was an extraordinarily below-par performance from Ireland,” Greenwood. “I was watching their reaction to the result afterwards and for them it seemed about no one get hurt.
“They are a good side with a good shape and the big games are to come.
“I’m a massive fan of Ireland – their breakdown work and their ability to put passages of play that manage an outcome.
“They are like a chess grand master. They are not thinking one phase in front. Smith and his coaching staff are thinking three, four, five ahead.
“In this extraordinary physical theatre that is taking place, they have that ability to stay really cold-as-ice in the brain department, in order to fulfil these incredibly complex moves that they have planned weeks in advance to break you down.
“It was a really strange performance from Ireland. There is no way they will play that poorly in the next two years.
“You know what the worrying thing is – England were really good for good for long passages of that game and Ireland were really poor but with 55 minutes on the clock it was 15-13 and they made a turnover underneath their own posts and could have been leading 20-15 having had no shots at all.
“Ireland are absolutely World Cup contenders.”