They may not quite be favourites, but hosts England have a strong chance of challenging for the Rugby World Cup title this year, here’s why…
There’s no denying that England playing all of their games on home grounds will be a huge advantage during the World Cup. All but one of their games are likely to be played at Twickenham where they will be buoyed on by a primarily English crowd who will see anything but victory as failure.
2.A team first approach
Stuart Lancaster has laid to rest the demons of the 2011 World Cup, and has demonstrated that only players who put the team first will represent England. This has led to several key names being left out of the squad, however this approach may build a stronger team spirit within the camp which can be hard to overcome.
3.The Bath connection
The Bath players currently in the England squad (primarily the backs) bring a new kind of dimension to the England side, and could spark some really moments of magic during the World Cup. The likes of George Ford, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson could all prove pivotal during the tournament.
4.The Saracens connection
Should the more flamboyant Bath-like approach fail, there are still likely to be a hefty contingent of Saracens players involved in England’s World Cup squad, who are more than capable of the kind of absolute game management which saw them crowned Premiership champions over a highly regarded Bath side.
Whilst England’s first XV may not quite match up to the likes of the All Blacks, their incredible squad depth could be a key asset at the World Cup. By having so many players in each position capable of stepping into the first team, injuries are unlikely to be too much of a concern for England at the World Cup.
England arguably have one of the best packs in the world right now, who are expertly coached by Graham Rowntree. They are influential in the loose, and masters at the set piece, and could prove the dominant basis from which England’s exciting back line can create some magic off the back of.
Throughout the current England squad, there are a number of talented young players who are going to be pushing hard for a place in the final World Cup squad. The likes of Luke Cowan-Dickie, Henry Slade and Maro Itoje could all make a major impact on the tournament if given the chance.