- Brian Smith looks back to warm-up Tests and forward to RWC with RFU.com
- England Attack Coach on Cardiff, Tuilagi and Argentina
England Attack Coach Brian Smith admits he is ‘still stinging’ from the try scoring blank in Cardiff but believes the side can approach the challenges of tournament rugby with confidence after returning to form in Dublin.
Martin Johnson’s side secured their first victory in Ireland for eight years with an accurate and clinical performance, in stark contrast to the previous match in Cardiff when large swathes of territory and possession were not converted into points. Tellingly, England failed to score a try for the first time in 15 Tests, dating back to the 15-15 draw with Scotland at Murrayfield in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations.
But, according to former London Irish Head Coach Smith, England can now prepare for the Rugby World Cup opener on Saturday, September 10 on the back of a performance with World Cup characteristics.
Discussing England’s attacking performances in the warm-up fixtures exclusively with RFU.com, he said: "I thought we were professional and productive in our first hit-out against Wales at home, but lost our way a little bit down in Cardiff.
"Our decision making could’ve been better and we put ourselves under a fair bit of pressure but we’re still pretty annoyed. We felt with the amount of possession we had and the territorial dominance we should’ve won that Test match pretty comfortably.
"We’re still stinging from that but I think the Irish performance was a good performance. We put them away, controlled and dominated the scoreboard and it was quite comfortable, very professional and a world cup-type performance."
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Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi has been an attacking highlight in his first two Tests, with two powerful tries testament to the physicality and speed the 20-year-old has brought to England's midfield.
Smith, who appeared for Australia the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup, says the enthusiasm Tuilagi brings to everything he does on the rugby field is a pleasure witness and although the Samoan-born No.13 is an outstanding prospect he has only added to an already dangerous crop of English strike-runners.
He said: "We’re fortunate to have some really good strike players and some big try scorers, the likes of Chris Ashton, Delon Armitage, Ben Foden and Matt Banahan have got really strong try scoring records.
"We’ve got some powerful midfield runners as well – Mike Tindall and Shontayne Hape – and now we can add Manu to that list. He’s a bit younger than our other midfield players so he brings some enthusiasm.
"He’s an outstanding, very raw prospect at the moment but he’s made a good start to his international career. People have great expectations and the key thing is to keep his feet on the ground, keep doing the hard work and hopefully the tries will keep coming for him."
Photo: Getty Images
England are now down on the South Island ahead of the upcoming clash with the Pumas under the roof at Dunedin’s new Forsyth Barr Stadium.
With Argentina obviously dominating thinking at this stage, Smith picked out a few key facets of their game which will frame England’s attacking preparations this week:
"They’re a volatile and emotional team and they’ll come at us at 100 miles-an-hour. So from an attack point of view you’ve got to deal with that intensity, there are ways to tactically exploit that intensity but ultimately you’ve got to match that physical intensity.
"They’ve got outstanding, experienced players who are used to physical confrontations, especially in the pack, so they’ll be a tough, dogged opponent. They should not be underestimated."