Youngs: We will blow them away in first 20 minutes
England intend to “blow Australia away” with a ferocious opening quarter to tonight’s do-or-die World Cup match at Twickenham, with scrum-half Ben Youngs warning they intend to give the Wallabies “a reason to quit”.
Youngs insists that England will not be daunted by the immense pressure on Stuart Lancaster’s side as they attempt to avoid the ignominy of becoming the first World Cup hosts to crash out of the tournament at the pool stages.
Instead the Leicester scrum-half vowed that it would be Australia, not England, who would feel the heat as the home side draw confidence from back-to-back victories over the Wallabies.
A defeat tonight would not end Australia’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals as they still have to play Wales at Twickenham next Saturday. For England, in contrast, it is win or bust, and Youngs believes that will give Lancaster’s side the mental edge. “Australia have potentially got a reason to quit tomorrow,” said Youngs, who has won all three games he has started against Australia at scrum-half, including the 26-17 victory at Twickenham last November.
“They can go to Wales and get a result. They can afford to lose a game. We can’t and we’ve got to make sure we give them a reason to quit. We’ve got to make sure we come out for the game and, in that first 20 minutes, we blow them away. We’ve got to come out with a real intensity and edge to our game, physicality. Don’t match what they bring. We’ve got to go above that: above and beyond.”
Youngs, who had to pass a fitness test on Wednesday on an ankle injury he sustained against Wales to take his place in the starting XV, added: “The resilience in the team is the fact that we cannot quit. They’ve got a reason that potentially they can afford to lose one. We can’t. We’ve got to give them a reason to quit and that’s how we go about our game. The first 20 minutes, give them a reason to fold.”
Youngs’ broadside came after former England coach Sir Clive Woodward questioned Australia’s rugby intelligence in his Daily Mail column by insisting the Wallabies were “not the brightest team”.
Michael Cheika, the Australia head coach, laughed off those claims, but insisted his side would have the emotional intelligence to win the game.
“Mr Woodward’s right, I only got 300 out of 500 in my high-school certificate. My mother wasn’t happy with the results,” said Cheika, a self-made millionaire from a fashion distribution company. “She begged me to study harder. But somehow I got through, I don’t know how – fluked it, I suppose.
“Sometimes it’s not intelli- gence but emotional intelligence that helps in this game – it’s not the IQ it’s the EQ. So hopefully we’ve got a bit of EQ amongst us. We are loving our time together and we are doing our best for our country.
“We want to enjoy our time playing the game, not frivolously; we just want to put a smile on our faces. We know the pain and how difficult the game is going to be.”
Danny Cipriani, who narrowly missed out on a place in England’s 31-man squad, stoked the fires yesterday by insisting in a blog for Paddy Power that not one Australia player would get into the current English XV.
Adam Ashley-Cooper, the Wallabies wing, responded with a cutting rebuke to the Sale Sharks player. “It’s just nice that Danny is tweeting about someone other than him- self,” said Ashley-Cooper, who will win his 110th cap tonight. “He’s a good bloke and I enjoy his selfies a lot. He can say what he likes, he wouldn’t ever be a part of our team.”
And would the 31-year-old take any satisfaction from knocking England out of the World Cup in the pool stages with a victory tonight?
“The satisfaction and relief I get from playing is always when we win, regardless of who we play,” Ashley-Cooper added. “We’re playing to represent our country and that means millions to people back home. That’s enough to play for. Traditionally there’s always been a great rivalry with England.
“It’s been there throughout my career and I’ve really enjoyed that battle, particularly at Twickenham. It will be the same here tomorrow.”
Unafraid: Australia’s Kane Douglas (right) and Matt Toomua yesterday