Thank goodness that's over, and Michael Cheika can get back to just being a "good old mate" of Eddie Jones again.

How it must have pained the old scrum colleagues from their Randwick days to be jostling against each other at a Rugby World Cup.

From being on the same side, dressing-room besties in the 1980s, to being sworn enemies at least for a week. It can't be good for anybody's health.

It sure as hell looked like being a grim state of affairs for Cheika, who whenever the television cameras honed in on him in the stands at Oita Stadium, looked to be living out a personal nightmare.

A thump of the desk here, a look of desperation there. Surely he'll be on his way to pastures new once the dust settles on this thumping 40-16 England victory over Australia.

He dramatically called for "compassion" from a journalist after the match, when asked if he would be moving on.

But the Wallabies are going home. They have lost seven straight games to England. Cheika's contract is up. You do the maths.

"I was supposed to get this done for the people here and for Australians. I'm so disappointed," Cheika said, seemingly close to tears.

Cheika clobbered the table in front of him early in the game after Australia gave away a scrum inside their own 22, and five minutes later his team were two tries behind, the estimable Jonny May marking his 50th cap with a double.

As Brexit debating went into overdrive in the UK Parliament, England certainly needed no left-wing amendment. They were happy, too, for this particular May to crack on with getting a deal done.

The Leicester flyer dashed in by the corner flag both times, firstly from close range after a patient build-up and on the second occasion when David Pocock handed over possession and Henry Slade charged from midfield before kicking through for England's bolting number 11 to gather.

Australia had an 11 who could dash for the line too, and when Marika Koroibete took advantage of tremendous work from Reece Hodge and Jordan Petaia to bound down the left for a try that Christian Lealiifano converted, it was a one-point game early in the second half. Hope for Cheika and his men, but not for long.

Prop Kyle Sinckler exploited a gap in Australia's defence to trundle through for a swift riposte, and Australia were then booted out of the game by the outstanding kicking game of England captain Owen Farrell. Anthony Watson piled on the agony with another try. Mercifully the TV cameras allowed Cheika to wallow in private grief this time.

With Jones and Cheika, there was a sense of soap-opera histrionics about their pre-match sparring, the possibility that this apparent long-standing great friendship - Jones described Cheika as "my good old mate" ahead of this game - may not be quite all it was cracked up to be.

Australians have made a roaring trade from exporting soap operas for global consumption, of course, and it was no great stretch to imagine Jones and Cheika squabbling over day-to-day mundanities in, say, the long-running Neighbours saga.

Mulish to a fault, you could equate them to that garrulous hepcat Lou Carpenter and Salvation Army field marshal Harold Bishop, long-time "good old mates" whose own friendship was put under intense pressure by another rivalry for the ages.

Just as Carpenter and Bishop fought tooth, nail and tuba solo for the affections of Madge Ramsey, so there was one thing standing between Jones and Cheika’s old pals' act on Saturday: it was a day to go hard or go home.

Erstwhile team-mates, Cheika had a beef this week about Jones bringing Aussie Ricky Stuart into the England camp over the past week. Why, Cheika seemed to question, are so many leading Australian coaches working with England teams, whether in rugby, cricket, indeed anywhere across the sporting spectrum?

The swaggering, wily Jones had struck another blow at the heart of Australia. Cheika was rattled by the master wind-up merchant, ensnared by another supremely executed trap.

The irony amid Australian post-match hand-wringing is that Jones is fancied in some quarters to take over from Cheika for what would be a second stint with the Wallabies. He was described as "the obvious solution" - as well as an "arch little pinprick" - in a Sydney Morning Herald editorial on Saturday morning.

Jones has often said he fancies retiring to Barbados once his time with England is up, yet he said the same during his Japan tenure.

The reality is that he lives for days such as this.

Australia need the sort of rebuilding job England faced after the last World Cup. They have lost to England and Wales, where four years ago hosts England were beaten by Australia and Wales.

Whether Australia could tempt 59-year-old Jones again is a different question. They need him surely more than he needs them.

With a Cheshire cat grin for the cameras and a brief pat on the back for Cheika, Jones is all about England for now as he turns his focus to Yokohama and a semi-final next Saturday, another coach and another team in his sights.

A disconsolate Michael Cheika hailed his Australia players as "a credit to their country" after the Wallabies were dumped out of the Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage by England.

Despite starting superbly in Oita, the 1991 and 1999 world champions were ultimately thumped 40-16 as England defended superbly before pulling clear in the second half.

Australia head coach Cheika is widely expected to leave his role, having failed to oversee a repeat of the team's run to the final in 2015.

The 52-year-old cut a distraught figure in his immediate post-match interview, but he made a point of highlighting his team's commitment to the cause.

"I think the lads put everything they had into it today," said Cheika. "I want all the Aussies at home and over here to know that. They gave it everything; they put their bodies on the line.

"We made a few mistakes at different times, but they've given everything, these lads ... and they're a credit to their country."

Australia had more possession throughout Saturday's contest but could only manage one try, through Marika Koroibete, while England crossed four times courtesy of Jonny May (2), Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson.

"I thought we actually played quite well, especially the first 50-60 [minutes]," Cheika reasoned.

"We gave away two intercepts and they [England] defended well like you've got to, so the better team won.

"That's the way it is, you've got to suck that up sometimes. I was supposed to get this done for the people here and for Australians. I'm so disappointed."

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper added: "We're really upset. We emptied everything into this and we didn't get it done, which is pretty gutting for a lot of reasons.

"Firstly, there's a lot of our guys who are leaving. Secondly, we had a great supporter base over here to push us along and we really felt it along the way. To not be able to do it for them and ourselves is pretty gutting."

Jonny May marked his 50th Test appearance with two tries as England gained Rugby World Cup revenge over Australia, reaching the semi-finals with an emphatic 40-16 win in Oita.

May crossed twice in the space of four first-half minutes to give England, who were humiliatingly eliminated on home soil four years ago courtesy of a pool-stage defeat to the Wallabies, a lead they never relinquished.

Australia were ultimately well beaten in what appears likely to be Michael Cheika's final game in charge, Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson also crossing in the second half as England, for whom Tom Curry was outstanding, thundered clear.

Eddie Jones' men have now won seven successive Tests against Australia since that painful 2015 defeat and will face defending champions New Zealand or Ireland in the last four.

The Wallabies had more of the ball throughout the contest, yet England were much more clinical as they showed no signs of rust in their first game for a fortnight, the 2003 champions' final pool game against France having been cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Teenage back Jordan Petaia - a bold selection from Cheika at outside centre - was prominent in a superb start for the underdogs, but the Wallabies' early dominance only yielded three points from Christian Lealiifano.

Having been initially pegged back by Australia's direct running and impressive ruck speed, England dramatically seized the initiative through May.

The Leicester wing's first score was a straightforward one as he accepted Curry's delayed pass to go over in the left corner, after Manu Tuilagi had played a key role in marching England forward.

A more eye-catching try quickly followed when Henry Slade intercepted a loose pass from David Pocock. Slade did not have the legs to reach the line, but he kicked ahead for May, who gathered calmly and outpaced Samu Kerevi to dot down again.

Owen Farrell, playing at fly-half for the first time in the tournament, twice converted from the left touchline and added a simple penalty in between two three-pointers from Lealiifano, ensuring England led 17-9 at the interval.

Australia briefly reduced their deficit to a solitary point as Marika Koroibete streaked over from Petaia's inside pass, only for England to respond immediately, Farrell's flat cut-out pass laying on a try for Sinckler.

England never looked back thereafter and skipper Farrell kicked three further penalties before Watson's 76th-minute interception try rubbed salt in Australia's wounds.

England will consider anything less than winning the Rugby World Cup as a failure, according to former world champion Jason Robinson.

Eddie Jones' side meet Australia in a quarter-final showdown in Oita on Saturday, having finished top of Pool C.

The Wallabies' 33-13 win at Twickenham four years ago dumped England out of their home World Cup in the pool stage, but Jones, who took over from Stuart Lancaster following that tournament, has overseen six straight wins over Australia since.

England looked in impressive form throughout their Pool C campaign, cruising to victories over Tonga, the United States and Argentina before their final match against France was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Beating Australia would see England face Ireland or holders New Zealand for a place in the final, and Robinson – a World Cup winner in 2003 – does not believe Jones' team can be content with anything short of becoming champions.

"Jones has done a great job - he's transformed them in a lot of ways," said Robinson, speaking to Omnisport on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

"England will want to win the World Cup, it's as simple as this.

"Getting beat in a semi or the quarters, it will all be seen as a failure if we don't win the World Cup. England are such in world rugby that second place isn't an achievement.

"Sometimes, in sports like football, you can celebrate getting into a semi-final, but it's England - we're the biggest rugby nation in the world.

"The guys have not turned up to get beaten in a semi or even the final. Success is winning the thing.

"There's no givens. [Jones] has taken the team forward in many different ways over the last four years and should be commended.

"But World Cups are all about winning, you can talk about finals as much as you want but you're either a winner or a loser. The only medals I get out are not the runner up ones."

However, Robinson conceded claiming a second World Cup title would be no mean feat against some of the sport's greatest sides. 

"If you're going to win this tournament, play Australia in the quarters, maybe New Zealand in the semis and potentially Wales or South Africa in a final," he added.

"There's no easy way to the final, you still have to beat the big teams. If England are to win, they'll have certainly earned it."

 

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England head coach Eddie Jones said "someone is going to die" as he turned up the heat ahead of his side's Rugby World Cup blockbuster against Australia.

A spot in the World Cup semi-final will be up for grabs when England and rivals Australia meet in Oita on Saturday.

Expectations are high for England, who are led by former Wallabies coach Jones, and the 59-year-old Australian used ancient Japanese Warriors as a way to describe his team.

"How many samurai have we got: 23, mate. And we've got eight in the caves up there," Jones told reporters, pointing to the hills behind the England hotel in Beppu.

"That is where all the samurai lived. Every time the samurai fought, one lived, and one died. It will be the same on Saturday. Someone is going to live, and someone is going to die. That's what the game is about and that's the excitement. You get the best eight teams, all playing for their lives.

"The great thing about the World Cup is that every game is a knockout. No one has won a World Cup after losing a game and there is a reason for that. That's what I enjoy so much about a World Cup, every game is a knockout. Every game is potentially a knockout."

Jones, meanwhile, called on England skipper Owen Farrell to concentrate on himself after focusing on the team during the pool stage.

"The responsibility of being captain at the World Cup is much larger than normal test matches, because you're bringing a group of 31 players together for... how long have we been together now? Eight or nine weeks," Jones said.

"You get all the family issues. You go to the dinner table, one brother is happy, one brother is unhappy. Someone doesn't know if they are happy or not. He's the father of that group so to speak. His ability to delegate, to know what to say to players is a challenging experience for a young guy like him. He's coping with it really well. 

"I feel like sometimes, maybe earlier in the tournament, he spent too much time in the captaincy area and not enough on his own individual prep, but I've seen a real change in that this week.

"Why was [Australia cricket star] Steve Smith so successful in the Ashes? One of the reasons was he didn't have to worry about the bowling team, he didn't have to worry about setting fields. All he had to worry about was batting. It's much simpler when you're just a player. When you are captain, you've got more responsibilities, and as you go on as a captain you learn how to get the balance right.

"Owen is a warrior. He leads from the front, competes and he's tough. And that's what we've tried to produce in this team. We've got a tough team that competes hard and that's how we want to play. That's the England style of playing."

James Horwill is backing Australia to end their barren run against England and go on to win the Rugby World Cup.

The Wallabies have lost six consecutive games against England since knocking them out of the previous World Cup at Twickenham four years ago.

Eddie Jones' side are firm favourites to continue that sequence at Oita Stadium on Saturday and set up a semi-final against two-time defending champions New Zealand or Ireland. 

Yet former Australia captain Horwill thinks Michael Cheika's men can defy the odds and lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time.

Asked if the Wallabies can go all the way, he told Omnisport: "I don't see why not. They would get New Zealand next assuming they get past Ireland, which most people would expect them to do.

"It would obviously be challenging, but if we were able to perform as we did against New Zealand in Perth [where Australia were 47-26 winners in August] with a very dominant performance, there is no reason why we can't.

"It's just the consistency we need, which has been lacking over the last couple of years."

Horwill stressed the importance of Australia starting the game against England as they finished it in a 29-25 Pool D defeat to Wales last month, when they mounted a spirited fightback but gave themselves too much to do.

"You can see the way we play we are holding the ball and not kicking a lot. I don't see them changing the way they play." the 34-year-old ex-lock said.

"In the Wales game, we turned the ball over too much to start with. When you hold on to the ball, as we saw in that game, you can build pressure with gaining territory.

"That is a big part of the way the Australians have been playing, keep the ball and carry hard. If we can do that, we have some very damaging runners and a potent attack.

"The key is not allowing [England] to get into the position Wales were in to start with. Build the scoreboard, manage the game really well and hopefully not chase the game."

Eddie Jones praised his "good old mate" Michael Cheika ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup clash between England and Australia and said mentor Jeff Sayle would be proud of them.

Jones and Cheika have never need much encouragement to engage in verbal exchanges before showdowns between England and the Wallabies.

The former club-mates were exchanging compliments two days before a blockbuster quarter-final at Oita Stadium, and England head coach Jones thinks Randwick great Sayle - who died on October 1 - will be looking down with pride this weekend.

"They are a great tournament side. I think Cheik has done a really good job," Australian Jones said.

"I'm proud of the job he does. He's a good old mate of mine."

Jones added: "There will be a bloke in the sky who will be quite excited about Michael and I coaching against each other this week.

"I'm sure he's having a few beers next to St Peter now looking at the situation."

Wallabies boss Cheika thinks it is a shame Australian rugby is not benefiting from Jones' expertise.

"He's been there [in England] for a bit now hasn't he? He's done a good job for sure," Cheika said of the former Australia coach.

"It always hurts me when there's an Aussie over there. Trevor Bayliss and Eddie and, I don't know, Wayne Bennett. You want them at home but it is what it is. What do you do?"

Matt Toomua has an insight into opponents England from his time with Leicester Tigers, but his assessment of their "weaknesses" will be of little use in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Toomua spent three years in the Premiership with Leicester and is set to come face-to-face with a number of former Tigers team-mates in Oita this weekend. 

The versatile 29-year-old is among the Australia replacements to take on an England side including the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs and Jonny May, with George Ford and Dan Cole on the bench.

Asked for his thoughts on his ex-colleagues, Toomua told a news conference: "I know all their weaknesses. I can list them now for you if you want.

"Manu is a terrible snooker player, George Ford never pays for a beer, Ben Youngs isn't even the best rugby player in his family, let alone his country.

"The chicken, Jonny May, is very weird, and Dan Cole doesn't have a personality. I've just been telling everybody about that."

Shifting to a more serious tone, he added: "No, we had a great relationship with them and one thing we do know is they're all quality players. We were fortunate for the last couple of years when Manu came back from injury, we just saw him grow in stature.

"He probably grows the bigger the game as well. He probably plays his best rugby in Tests, and that's the sign of a true champion player.

"Obviously Manu is a name that sticks out for a lot of reasons - he is a strong carrier and makes a lot of big plays. But it is probably about trying to shut down his time and space.

"He is at 12 now so he is a bit closer to the play, so it might be a little easier in that sense. I'm sure they're working out ways to give him some ball one-on-one at full steam."

While Tuilagi is a very real threat to Australia from the outset, Ford lost the number 10 shirt to Owen Farrell despite an impressive tournament to date.

Captain Farrell said: "I've played fly-half plenty of times before, I'm fine with playing fly-half. It's more about how I can fit in the team and hopefully put us in a place to perform well at the weekend."

Australia may have lost six successive matches to England, but Michael Cheika insisted "the fear inside us is dead" ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

A 33-13 win for the Wallabies four years ago ensured England suffered an embarrassing pool-stage exit at the World Cup on home soil and prompted the Rugby Football Union to hire Australian Eddie Jones as their new head coach.

Tasmanian Jones has had Cheika's number ever since, with England winning each of their six meetings between 2016 and 2018.

However, that record is not weighing on the mind of Cheika, who has already said he will walk away from his post if Australia do not win the World Cup.

"The fear inside us is dead," Cheika said at a news conference.

"We are not afraid to go there and get it. That means it will be a great game."

That attitude perhaps explains Cheika's decision to roll the dice on 19-year-old Jordan Petaia, who will become just the fourth teenager to appear in a World Cup knockout match when he starts at outside centre.

Petaia only made his Test debut in the pool stage and both his previous appearances came at wing, but he has been shifted inside with Reece Hodge returning from suspension.

"I trust him infinitely," Cheika added of Petaia.

"He's looking good as gold. It's going to be fast and aggressive but I just know he will rise to the challenge - I've seen it in him."

Jones has also taken a gamble, dropping the in-form George Ford for Henry Slade and switching captain Owen Farrell to fly-half.

England have won all three of their World Cup matches so far - with their game against France cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis - and Jones knows they need to raise their level against the Wallabies.

"We've had three games, we've had three bonus-point wins, we can't do more than that," Jones said.

"Do we have to play better than that against Australia? The likelihood is yes, and we are prepared for that."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England - Maro Itoje

Turnovers are key in such tight contests and no one won more than Itoje in the pool stage. The forward only played in two games and yet regained the ball on seven occasions.

Australia - Samu Kerevi

While Petaia will garner much of the attention, England must keep an eye on his midfield partner and Queensland Reds team-mate Kerevi. He beat 20 defenders across three appearances in the pool stage - the most of any centre - and more than England's top two players - Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Joseph - combined.

Key Opta Facts

- The two nations have met 50 times previously. England have won 24 of those matches and Australia have won 25, while there was a draw back in 1997.
- England averaged 29 kicks in play per game during the pool stage, the most of any team. Meanwhile, Australia averaged the fewest (13). 
- Australia have reached the knockout phase in each of the nine World Cups and have won six of their previous eight quarter-finals.
- Jonny May will win his 50th cap for England. He has scored 25 tries in his previous 49 appearances.
- Luke Cowan-Dickie, who will start on the bench, has scored a try in each of his three World Cup appearances. Only Will Greenwood (four) has scored in more successive World Cup games for England.

The Rugby World Cup enters the knockout phase this weekend, with Ireland looking to finally reach a semi-final and Japan bidding to cause another upset.

Joe Schmidt's team may have beaten two-time reigning champions New Zealand in two of their previous three meetings, but Ireland have a rotten record in World Cup quarter-finals.

Hosts Japan face South Africa – the team they stunned in the pool stage four years ago – in their first World Cup quarter-final, while Wales meet France and England take on an Australia side they have an excellent recent record against.

Here, we take a look at the Opta data for the four quarter-final clashes.

 

England v Australia

6 - England have dominated the Wallabies of late, winning each of their previous half a dozen meetings since Australian Eddie Jones was hired as head coach in 2015.

7 - No player won more turnovers than Maro Itoje's seven in the pool stage and the England forward only featured in two of his team's three matches.

29 - Jones' side averaged 29 kicks in play per game during the pool stage – the most of any team – while Australia, with 13, averaged the fewest.

New Zealand v Ireland

7 - Ireland are in their seventh World Cup quarter-final and have lost all of their previous six matches at this stage – the joint most last-eight losses, along with Scotland.

17 - The All Blacks have won a record 17 consecutive World Cup games coming into this encounter – a run that dates back to a quarter-final defeat to France in 2007.

29 - New Zealand have scored a try in each of their last 29 World Cup matches, last failing to do so in 2003.

Wales v France

8 - In the eight meetings between these two nations since Les Bleus beat Wales in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, Warren Gatland's team have won seven times. Only the All Blacks have beaten France more often in that span (10 times).

4 - Wales won all four of their pool-stage matches for the first time since 1987. They have never won five World Cup games in a row.

6 - Since the start of 2018, France have lost six Tests in which they have been leading at half-time – the most such defeats of any side in that time. One of those came against Wales when they were 16 points ahead at the interval.

Japan v South Africa

3 - Japan's 34-32 victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup was their first over a Tier One nation. Since then they have won two of their three games against such opponents, beating Ireland and Scotland in this tournament.

5 - Kotaro Matsushima is one of the leading try-scorers at this World Cup, along with Wales wing Josh Adams, having crossed five times.

47 - The Springboks won 47 out of 47 lineouts on their own throw in the pool stage, the only side in the tournament to maintain a 100 per cent success rate.

Lasith Malinga returns to captain Sri Lanka, while Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Oshada Fernando have retained their places in the Twenty20 International squad for the series in Australia.

Malinga was among a host of players who opted out of the recent tour of Pakistan, which Sri Lanka ended with a historic 3-0 whitewash of the top-ranked T20 side in the world.

Dasun Shanaka skippered an inexperienced team in Malinga's absence, but the paceman is set to resume leadership duties in a three-match series that starts at Adelaide Oval on October 27.

Batsmen Rajapaksa and Oshada are also among the 16 players selected after making their debuts in Pakistan.

Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella are among the other names to come back into the squad.

 

Sri Lanka squad:

Lasith Malinga (captain), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha.

Australia coach Michael Cheika has placed his faith in Jordan Petaia by naming the teenager at outside centre for the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against England.

The 19-year-old will become the first player born this century to start a World Cup knockout game when he lines up at 13, having featured on the wing in his previous two Tests during the pool stage.

His change in position comes about because wing Reece Hodge has also been selected having completed a three-game suspension after he was cited for a high tackle against Fiji.

Petaia will partner Queensland Reds team-mate Samu Kerevi in midfield while Cheika has opted for a half-back pairing of Will Genia and Christian Lealiifano.

Kurtley Beale has retained his spot at full-back having cleared the concussion protocols after taking a blow to the head against Georgia, while flanker Michael Hooper is back to captain the team.

Australia are bidding to reach their third successive World Cup semi-final and end a run of six consecutive losses to England, who have won every game against the Wallabies since Tasmanian Eddie Jones was appointed as their head coach.

 

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Will Genia; Scott Sio, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani.

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Nic White, Matt To'omua, James O'Connor.

Nathan Lyon is refusing to give up hope on featuring for Australia at their home ICC Men's T20 World Cup despite missing out on selection against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The spinner has only made two T20I appearances for his country – the last of those coming a year ago – and is not included for his country's upcoming series in 20-over cricket.

But Lyon, Australia's third-highest wicket-taker in Tests, still wants to play in all three formats and will continue to make himself available.

"Definitely I want to put my hand up for all games of cricket, especially for Australia," he said.

"Whatever game I play cricket for, I just need to make sure I'm doing my job and if I keep putting my hand up for selection, who knows where that may lead to?"

Lyon, who was facing a similar battle prior to the 50-over World Cup before entering as Australia's front-line spinner, insists there is no issue with chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns.

"He just called me and told me I wasn't in," he added.

"But I had a really good chat to Cracker [Hohns] – I get along really well with him – so if I have any issues with Cracker, I'll just pick up the phone.

"There's no doubt. I have the absolute utmost respect for him so there's no dramas there."

Joe Marler said England have no fears as they prepare for Saturday's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia.

Marler came out of test retirement at the end of the last season to join up with Eddie Jones' England squad, who are well rested for the clash in Oita having had their final pool game against France abandoned due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The 29-year-old Marler was part of the England team that did not reach the last eight in 2015, but believes the 2019 squad are better equipped to embrace the challenges of knockout rugby.  

"I don't think it's pressure. The group has now got a mind-set of 'bring it on – bring on the challenges'," he told reporters.

"We embrace it and look forward to it as opposed to shying away from it.

"I have been involved in teams who have let nerves overcome them, caved in and allowed them to become negative. I don't feel that in this group. The boys embrace the nervousness and use it as a positive energy to drive us on."

Marler had retired from internationals in 2018 due to family reasons but could not resist the opportunity to win a World Cup with England, having been called into the squad for the showpiece tournament in Japan.

"That was part of the reason I came out of retirement. I could see the potential in this group and I wanted a taste of that. That's ultimately what's driving me on for the next couple of weeks," he added.

"It hasn't been easy. I've had to work my buns off to try and get back to an emotional and mental state capable of contributing to the squad the best I can.

"And the physical state too. That has been even harder. You come out of it for a year and you forget how fast they do everything."

James Horwill thinks the cancellation of England's Rugby World Cup clash with France could work in Australia's favour when the teams meet in a blockbuster quarter-final on Saturday.

England were due to face Les Bleus in their final Pool C match in Yokohama last weekend, but Typhoon Hagibis prevented the fixture from going ahead.

It led to England coach Eddie Jones saying the typhoon gods must be smiling on his team after they were given a weekend off and finished top to set up a showdown with the Wallabies.

Yet former Australia captain Horwill believes England will be wishing they had locked horns for a pool decider with their Six Nations rivals, having won their other three games at a canter.

Horwill told Omnisport: "England are a good side, well drilled and very disciplined with what they do. When they get on the front foot, they are very hard to stop.

"I think they would have liked to have had that game against France because it would have been a strong test and a really challenge.

"They have come through the pool stage being able to deal with the opposition quite comfortably, which is obviously a good thing for them, but they haven't had a big test.

"It depends on how you look at it. From the point of view of someone like Billy Vunipola, with a sore ankle, he's had extra time to rest up and get fit in a week off.

"They would have wanted to play again, but they should feel good going into the game. But if the heat comes sometimes you need to think, 'We've been here before last week and we know how to get through it'.

"Obviously that is not something England have had to deal with."

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