"Every game is different but we know that we need to improve and we know that we'll be better for getting a World Cup game out the way and I think time will tell and I think that it will show that Fiji are a good team. Obviously they have a tough ask now after a short turnaround however I think they're going to be strong, so we are in a pretty good place and looking forward to the weekend"
Those were the words of Richard Wigglesworth, on Monday morning, following England's opening Rugby World Cup Pool A victory over Fiji. After a few days of reflection the conclusions are clear and simple, England weren't at their best on Friday night but they delivered the result regardless and most importantly secured the bonus point that could be critical. The areas of improvement are clear; overall discipline in particular at the breakdown, grasping hold of our scrummage and a general tidy up in attack. Are these improvements beyond England? No of course not. Instead they are items that they will put right in training and the clearer thinking that will be afforded to them on Saturday, due to knowing how Twickenham will feel, will mean they are more than capable of polishing up their act.
England's bench did make an impact on Friday night, they came on and produced exactly what was required of them to secure the match and immediately after the game Stuart highlighted that he would 'have look at selection' this week. In my view I don't believe that wholesale changes are required, a few tweaks perhaps but nothing major. England's first half wobbles were natural due to the occasion, as opposed to fundamental errors in personnel. The fact is that in order for your bench to be most effective the XV starting have to have gained a solid platform to work off.
Ben Youngs didn't have his greatest game of his life on Friday night therefore you wonder if he might be switched for Wiggelsworth, however as we know that does change the dynamic from the middle quite considerably. Richard Wiggelsworth is a touch more pragmatic and reliable on the boot whereas, when he's on his game, Ben Youngs sparks and links in strongly in with George Ford. Could Joe Launchbury start? You have to say that he is more than capable of doing, however what would that do to the lineout when you have someone as experienced as Alyn Wyn Jones in there? Geoff Parling has delivered solidity to the whole procedure so the question, in my mind, for Stuart is whether Joe starts over Courtney Lawes?
With the luxury of a seven-day turnaround England have the opportunity to rest their bodies after a hugely physical encounter. I said prior to the game that the victory was the first objective, the bonus point would have been just that, a bonus, and if England could escape mostly unharmed then it would be a miracle. The fact that individuals haven't been ruled out of the competition due to knocks from the Fijian physicality is hugely encouraging. There's no question that the Welsh will bring physical intensity to Twickenham however not in the same collective manner that the Fijians do. A statement like that certainly isn't disrespecting Wales it is simply a fact given the collective size of John McKee's side from one to fifteen and the manner in which every single one attacks their hits.
This week the work will continue in earnest at Pennyhill Park before tapering down prior to this huge Pool A clash. Stuart Lancaster will name the side to play Wales on Thursday morning and then on Saturday night England will return to Twickenham knowing what to expect in terms of a Rugby World Cup atmosphere. This knowledge will assist them in starting well and continuing to prove that Twickenham Stadium is their home and their fortress against an old and very well known rival.