Ben Youngs has warned England of the danger posed by Fiji if they enter the second half of Friday’s World Cup opener sensing an upset is possible.
The Islanders are heavy underdogs but know that if they remain in touch by the interval, they could take advantage of a restless Twickenham crowd and crank up the pressure on the tournament hosts.
It is a message that Youngs is keen to emphasise after several chances were butchered in last weekend’s 21-13 victory over Ireland, enabling the Six Nations champions to remain in the hunt when they should have been dead and buried.
“You’ve got to put teams to bed early. If we get three opportunities early on against Fiji, then we must take them,” scrum-half Youngs said.
“They’re not the sort of side you want to still be in the game at half-time or 60 minutes because they have the ability to score from anywhere.
“They have so many threats like their offloading and stepping. And they’re all power athletes. We need to make sure we’re not keeping them in the game and feeding their belief.
“Ireland is a good example of what we can’t do. We had two tries disallowed and there were a couple of overlaps when we chose to throw long rather than pick them off.
“Fiji’s confidence will surge if they’re still in the game around the 60-minute mark. And a team like Fiji are always going to do the unexpected, so you have to be on your guard.”
Fiji’s dangermen are scrum-half Nikola Matawalu, giant wing Nemani Nadolo and centre Vereniki Goneva, who is one of Youngs’ teammates at Leicester.
“It’s just ridiculous what Fijians can do with limited space and footwork and they also have the strength to go with it,” Youngs said.
“We know how dangerous Matawalu is. Give them any room in which to operate and they’ll make you look silly. Defence is a key part of our game and we’ve got to make sure we’re watertight.”
- PA Sport