England legend Jason Robinson is convinced Stuart Lancaster has chosen his side wisely ahead of Friday’s Rugby World Cup clash with Fiji.
Robinson wrote himself into English rugby folklore as part of the victorious class of 2003, diving over into the corner to score England’s only try in the final and give them a 14-9 half-time lead.
And after head coach Lancaster named an unchanged squad from the side that beat Ireland 21-13 for England’s opener at Twickenham, the former Sale Sharks man insists Lancaster’s back-three – Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Mike Brown – are the right men for the job.
But the 41-year-old also warned that it would not be an easy ride for the Red Rose’s rearguard, with the Flying Fijians’ explosive pace and power providing the potential for what would be a monumental World Cup upset.
“It’s definitely great to have Mike Brown back in there,” said Robinson. “I think he brings a lot of stability to the back three, and he’s got a lot of experience.
“I am also looking at Anthony Watson who is getting better for England with every game. His footwork is exceptional, he’s very confident, and some of the tries he’s scored recently have been great.
“I think in the big games you need someone who can do something out of nothing and he is certainly one of those players.
“I was massively impressed with Jonny May against Ireland. He needed that game because it was quite close between him and Jack Nowell, but he edged in front against Ireland as he was quick, he looked dangerous every time he got the ball, and he was hungry.
“He was all over the place and caused Ireland a lot of problems on the day, so I am happy with the back three.
“But they’re certainly going to be tested this week as there will be some big, powerful runners coming from Fiji, none more so than Nemani Nadolo – he’s a man mountain.
“So that’ll be a great test, especially for Watson; it will be some welcome to the World Cup.”
As well as Nadolo – who was exceptional for the Crusaders in this season’s Super Rugby – Fiji have called on Leicester centre Vereniki Goneva, former Gloucester flanker Akapusi Qera, and Leone Nakarawa of Glasgow Warriors for Friday evening’s showdown.
And Robinson believes retaining possession will be the key to securing an English victory and settling any pre-World Cup jitters.
He said: “Goneva and Nadolo are just two players that could cause England problems.
“Qera is another one who knows the English game very well having been at Gloucester, and you look at Nakarawa who is playing up in Glasgow so he’ll be used to playing some of the teams. They have exceptional talent.
“They also have nothing to lose, so it can only make for an exciting game. England have got to make sure they don’t give away the ball cheaply, because with such an attacking threat they can cut you up and score tries.”
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