- Andy Farrell wants England's defence to be an attacking weapon
- "Is it 100 per cent where we want it? No" – England Backs Coach
If Andy Farrell is insistent on one thing, it’s that defence should be used a as an attacking weapon to wrest the ball from the opposition and force mistakes in dangerous areas.
The England Backs coach frequently uses terms such as energy, intensity, bounce and fight – pre-requisites for the former Rugby League superstar’s offensive defence to impose itself on the other team.
Farrell believes England deserve credit for keeping a “traditionally great attacking side” such as Australia to one try in the 20-14 defeat but said they have not fully fired yet as a defensive unit and must improve to defeat South Africa this Saturday.
“We want to use our defence as an attacking weapon, to force mistakes from the opposition,” said the 37-year-old former Saracens coach.
“We didn’t get much chance against Fiji for obvious reasons [England won 54-12], but I thought we got off the line well and forced a couple of errors. We got one or two last weekend. But is it 100 per cent where we want it? No. We want to up the ante this week.
“You’ve got to make sure you take your defence to the opposition’s attack instead of letting the attack take their game to you – at times at the weekend Australia did that.”
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England’s review of the Wallabies’ victory has taken place and with another southern hemisphere giant lying in wait just days away, the only value for the England coaching team is look back with an eye on how to improve.
For Farrell, it was the situation at the breakdown which commanded most attention, given the amount Australia disrupted England’s rhythm.
Wallaby openside and Man of the Match Michael Hooper was at the heart of the disorder and with recalled Springbok No.6 Francois Louw expected to be a similar menace this weekend, Farrell said England must dominate the space at the breakdown.
He said: “The most glaring thing was how competitive Australia were at the breakdown. At times our breakdown was good and when we got quick ball I thought our speed of game was good, we made inroads of 50 or 60m up the field and put pressure on their line.
“But that was not a constant throughout the game – Australia got into the space at the breakdown on our ball pretty well and disrupted one of our weapons.
“We’ve got good nines who want to play quickly and when they’re getting scrappy ball or having to dig in for it it’s hard to get the continuity. We need to tighten up in that area because the same challenge is coming this week with South Africa."
Photo: Getty Images
The feeling in the England camp before the QBE Internationals was that this was time to produce results against the best teams in the world. The defeat to Australia has not changed the mentality in the group with Farrell adding that the South Africa game is one the team are “desperate to win”.
“We want to take as many scalps as we possibly can,” he said. “We played against a very good Australia side last week who, by their own reckoning, played their best game of the year.
"Throughout the whole game we were right on the edge of winning, so we can take the positives from that. But this is a game coming up that we’re desperate to win.”