Kieran Brookes knows there is room for improvement after England’s opening Rugby World Cup victory over Fiji but the prop is adamant that successfully securing a bonus-point triumph means it was mission accomplished.
England produced an uneven performance at Twickenham on Friday night but a late Billy Vunipola score ensured they picked up a four-try bonus point and a 35-11 win in the 2015 Rugby World Cup opener.
Stoke-born Brookes, who joined Northampton Saints from Newcastle Falcons at the end of last season, came off the bench in the second half to make his World Cup debut.
Mike Brown’s try double was the highlight for the hosts while Fijian powerhouse Nemani Nadolo dotted down for the visitors and with a tougher test against Six Nations rival Wales next up, Brookes admits that England will have plenty to work on in training this week.
“There were a few nerves with it being the game to start the World Cup but it was nice to come away with a win,” he said.
“It’s an emotional experience, the opening ceremony of the World Cup and beforehand we talked about going out, playing as well as we can and coming away with a win – that was the most important part.
“We definitely needed to come away from that with a bonus point, which we did.
“Fiji are a good outfit, they have good attack, good defence, a good set-piece and we knew they weren’t going to be a pushover and it was going to be a tough challenge.
“As the game went on, they may be tired a little bit and opportunities opened and I think we took them.
“There are things to work on and put right going into the Wales game but overall we are pretty happy with the start. We’ll review it on Monday and Tuesday and then put things right for Wales.”
With only two teams qualifying from a tricky Pool A that also includes Wales and Australia, Vunipola burrowing over for the fourth try with 80 minutes on the clock could yet prove vital.
Harlequins full-back Brown was the star man for the Red Rose, looking like a constant danger with ball in hand in addition to touching down for a pair of tries, and Brookes claims the full-back’s performance was an inspiration to the rest of the team.
“Mike Brown’s performance was huge – he was awesome wasn’t he? Seeing the lads put in performances like that gets everybody pumped up, ready to go and on the front foot,” added Brookes.
“If he keeps playing like that for the rest of the tournament, then happy days.
“It was a dream come true for me, as a boy I always wanted to play in the World Cup and represent my country, so it was a pretty emotional time.
“But as soon as you go over the white line it was about putting in a good a performance as you can.”
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