YOKOHAMA, 25 Oct – England are determined to put the brakes on New Zealand on Saturday – by applying the squeeze at the breakdown.
The Red Rose defence was exposed last weekend when Australia winger Marika Koroibete applied the after-burners to streak clear for the Wallabies’ only try in their 40-16 quarter-final defeat.
The All Blacks will have noted the way Koroibete was able to find space out wide, where they boast the try-scoring prowess of Sevu Reece and George Bridge.
Elliot Daly, left, insists England recognise that dual threat but he is confident flankers Sam Underhill, above left, and Tom Curry, above right, will cause sufficient problems at the breakdown that the quick ball that enabled Koroibete to race past the full-back will be harder to come by for New Zealand, who have opted to leave out Sam Cane, a natural open-side flanker, in favour of Scott Barrett, who is normally a second-row.
Daly said: "The speed of the breakdown last week caused us a bit of a problem. On the edge (of our defence) we were a bit soft, but we have addressed that. It all comes down to working as a group.
"It is not just the outside backs, it is the inside backs putting pressure on as well. We have worked hard on that this week. The pace of the ball last week put us under pressure.
"The way we have been building over the last couple of weeks has been really good. The way we have trained between matches has been intense and good preparation for the test matches. We are all excited for what could come our way tomorrow (Saturday)."
The Saracens full-back, who played in all three British and Irish Lions tests during the drawn series with New Zealand in 2017, believes this England squad is the tightest unit he has been part of, which could be important against the world's No.1 team, who can deliver something spectacular at any moment.
“Playing against the All Blacks, you have to anticipate everything,” he said. "They have some quality players who may think differently to other teams. It is about anticipating on the run and making sure you are always in the game.
"We talk about togetherness all the time and I haven’t felt this together in any team I have played in. We are having fun on and off the pitch and hopefully that shows in the games."
A World Cup semi-final is a new experience for all of the England players and Daly is confident their close bond, allied to tried and tested individual preparation methods, can take them into a first final since 2007.
"The good thing about last weekend (against Australia) is we built really nicely towards the game, and individually we got ourselves ready," he said. "It wasn't a team thing thinking, 'let's go for this game now', we were all at the right point come game time.
"Everyone in the team knows what they need to do to get to that level. We don't want to let anybody down."
"We've picked a team that's equipped to play the game we want to play."— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) October 24, 2019
Eddie gives you the lowdown on squad selection and preparation for Saturday's #ENGvNZL clash in Yokohama.#CarryThemHome pic.twitter.com/GijE4g61WT