Elliot Daly says England will NOT drop the drop-goals against Japan

England will NOT drop the drop-goals! After George Ford’s heroics against Argentina, Elliot Daly says the skill will be key to World Cup dreams of Steve Borthwick’s side

  • George Ford pulled off a tactical masterclass in opener against Argentina 
  • England will now look to show how good their work-in-progress attack can be 
  • CHRIS FOY: England arrived in France with little hope but won hearts and minds
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

England are ready to wield their new weapon of choice again this weekend, by launching another drop-goal barrage in the Pool D encounter with Japan here by the Mediterranean.

Steve Borthwick’s national team were propelled towards victory in their World Cup opener against Argentina by a salvo of three deadly drops by George Ford – the second of them from the halfway line at Stade Velodrome in Marseille. Having had success with what Maro Itoje referred to as a ‘Nineties rugby’ ploy, England won’t hesitate to fire similar shots on Sunday.

Ford is not the only member of the squad who has been practising that particular skill. Wing Elliot Daly – who is renowned as a long-range place kicker – said: ‘We’ll try a few, yeah. I’ve hit one before, so we’ll see. It’s in the veins now, so everyone wants a go!’

Asked if the tactic is a useful means of causing disruption for opposition defences, the Saracen added: ‘I definitely think so. Maybe it’s one of those things that’s gone out the game a bit. At the weekend, we were numbers down in some scenarios and Fordy’s just gone in the pocket.

‘Argentina were probably thinking, “How are we 12-3 down when they haven’t really done anything?”. Mentally, that can help because they start forcing things because of scoreboard pressure.’

Elliot Daly has described how England plan to deploy their potent drop-goals against Japan

George Ford scored three in the Red Roses’ tournament-opener against Argentina last week

Steve Borthwick’s side caught their opponents offguard and will look to threaten once again

Ford’s three shots of gold were a product of much preparation on the training ground since England arrived at their tournament base in Le Touquet on France’s north coast. Both defence coach Kevin Sinfield and attack coach Richard Wigglesworth have been involved in a plan which has caught other participating nations by surprise and is bound to be hurriedly copied in the weeks ahead.

Sinfield also suggested that Ford is not the only England player who can pose this type of threat to Japan and subsequent rivals, saying: ‘We are blessed within the squad with having a number of great kickers. We’ve got three wonderful 10s (Ford, Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith).

‘Danny Care has a history of kicking a few drop goals as well. Our game-plan is determined by what the opposition bring, but also on what we have available. I thought George was outstanding at the weekend. He’s one of a number who can kick drop-goals from 50 metres.’

Wigglesworth confirmed that England would readily adopt the same approach again, but was at pains to emphasise that their objective is to have a multi-dimensional attacking game. ‘We want it as part of our armoury, because you’ve got a world-class kicker in George Ford and when you keep the scoreboard ticking over, it’s obviously a massive advantage,’ he said. But there will definitely be other things in our armoury this weekend.’

This World Cup has already been marked by some noticeably long-distance kicking – both at goal and from hand. Wigglesworth added: ‘When I watched the first game, they were kicking it from 22 to 22. The balls are slightly different. They never say they’re different, but they are slightly different.

‘Big stadiums help, for some reason, plus the lack of wind. All the best kickers in the world are on show so we’ve seen some guys hit it a long way. Ramos and Dupont tend to hit the ball a mile, it’s what they do. George Ford is as good a dead ball punter as you’ll see.’

There was deserved acclaim for England’s performance in their 27-10 win against Argentina, given how they responded to adversity after Tom Curry’s third-minute dismissal for a high tackle. However, when the dust settled, a squad review produced an honest verdict on the urgent need to polish the Red Rose attack, which is still a work in progress.

When asked how much more is to come in that area, Daly said: ‘Quite a bit. The way we attacked early on, and then even with 14 men, we did get it to the edge and we did have quite a lot of space out there. We were creating, but the way those games go, you’re almost better off without the ball a with 14. Try to put pressure back on them, make them make a mistake and that’s what we did well.

Danny Care (pictured) could also be called upon to provide expert kicking, as well as England’s 10s Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell, once the latter returns from suspension

Daly detailed how heaped pressure from England helped shift momentum against Argentina

‘There’s a lot more to come, I’m very excited. We know how good our attack can be, so hopefully in the next few games we’ll be able to show that.’

So is there a desire to thrill the nation, with a rugby version of ‘Baz-ball’? ‘Well, you want to, but you only really do that if you win,’ added Daly. ‘We’re not saying we’re going to chuck the ball around, do this, do that, but we’re going to put ourselves in positions in attack to take the opportunities we create.’

Tellingly, when reflecting on the opening round of matches, Daly noted how the All Blacks paid for showing too much ambition against France, adding: ‘New Zealand obviously looked to play a little bit more with the ball and probably got themselves in a bit of trouble with that.

‘With the conditions, there were a lot of turnovers. It doesn’t look very greasy on TV, but it is. If you’re playing at 3pm then it’s sweat and if not it’s probably dew later on.’

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