TOKYO, 3 Oct - George Kruis's expertise in the lineout has been at the heart of Saracens' rise to the top of European rugby, and England coach Eddie Jones has decided to lean heavily on the Premiership club in the match against Argentina.
Saracens, who hold both the Champions Cup and the English Premiership trophies, supply half the pack for the crucial Pool C fixture in Tokyo on Saturday, a logical move by Jones to use tried and tested club partnerships.
Kruis, pictured above, will partner his Saracens team-mate Maro Itoje in the second row, in between hooker Jamie George and number eight Billy Vunipola. Waiting on the replacements' bench to add his firepower up front is Mako Vunipola, another Saracens forward. The club also provide captain Owen Farrell and full-back Elliot Daly, although he has yet to play for the Saracens after moving from Wasps in the summer.
🚨🚨Team announcement🚨🚨@EnglandRugby team to take on @lospumas in Pool C at #RWCTokyo. A lot on the line for both teams in this one. Thoughts on the team below?#RWC2019 #ENGvARG pic.twitter.com/ALBeLy7m9t— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 3, 2019
Kruis acknowledges the Saracens presence in the pack but is quick to point out that Jones had four experienced second-row forwards to choose from. He said: “Eddie has a wider plan in terms of picking a whole team. There’s myself, Maro, Joe (Launchbury) and Courtney Lawes, who all offer different things and are quite different players.
“Eddie would have picked the team based on what Argentina bring, but also whether we had more ball-carriers or less ball-carriers. I am grateful to be starting but it is a 31-man team effort.”
Kruis is fully aware of the dangers posed by a formidable Pumas pack that includes yet another Saracens team-mate, Juan Figallo, at tight-head prop.
Kruis said: “Their lineout is a big threat and their set piece is very good. They have a very athletic back five of the scrum, and they all jump and they are all very big. We know we have to be very good this weekend.
“Argentina have a massive focus, especially in the past, on set-piece. They are very dominant in that area, especially the Jaguares (Super Rugby team). It is something that we have been practising all week and something that we are very up for.”
Kruis, who has won 37 caps, will be calling the lineout moves and, as one of the key leaders in the team, has to make sure the younger players stick to the game plan.
“With some of the young players, we still had a lot of learning, especially in the Six Nations just gone," he said.
“We dissected that and had a good look at how we can improve and the big factors in some of those games, and we have come through the other side a lot closer. We have spent a lot more time together. It is probably a cliché, but we have worked incredibly hard on our togetherness and it is something I see paying off in the first two games.
“There are a lot of older lads in the squad who can give people nudges if there are any signs that they are not up to scratch.”