Stuart Lancaster will have slept a little easier on Saturday night following his side's victory over Ireland. After the nightmare that was Paris, England's performance on green grass of home will have comforted their Head Coach however rest assured he knows that the greatest challenges are still to come;
"It'll be feet on the ground - we don't want to get too carried away because we know the threat that's coming round the corner a week on Friday, and that will be made clear when we're together tomorrow [Sunday]. So the boys are pleased, but we're not jumping up and down because we know that the real business starts a week on Friday and not today."
In answer question that so many had been pondering regarding which was more important against Ireland, the victory or the performance, Stuart made it clear that the latter would always deliver the former;
"If you go into a game with a mindset not to lose then ultimately you probably won't win. You have to get your performance right and we looked at the areas we needed to improve against France. Set-piece wise the forwards did well and discipline was an awful lot better. It was disappointing to have two tries disallowed but overall we closed the game out well."
Since being dropped from England's side during the RBS 6 Nations Gloucester Rugby's Jonny May has bounced back with exceptional performances that have eclipsed anything that we have seen prior from him in the red rose of England. His try after just 5 minutes set the tone for England and he has pushed his case very hard for a starting jersey against Fiji;
"I thought Jonny was excellent. They rarely found grass in the back field because Jonny, Anthony and Browny had done their homework, dealt with the aerial threat. Jonny showed really attacking intent but also physicality to score. Jonny put his hand up but he's been putting his hand up throughout this pre-season camp."
Earlier in the week Rob Andrew, the man that is now the RFU's Professional Rugby Director, stated that this England side won't peak for this Rugby World Cup. His exact words were; 'Is this team going to peak at this World Cup? I don't know. I doubt it, to be honest.' With 13 days to go before the tournament it was the time for England's Head Coach to state his personal perspective on it;
"It's a results based business, I understand that. But I think this team is ready, yes. I would also add to that Ireland, Australia, Wales, New Zealand, South Africa, the list goes on. There are six or seven teams who could win it and whoever does win it is going to have to put together a run of six or seven performances on the bounce. That's our challenge as well. But playing at Twickenham the way we did today, we're a hard team to beat."
Speaking with Stuart just after Fiji's final warm up game at The Stoop he is well aware of the threat that the Pacific Islander's pose and as you'd expect doesn't have a single ounce of complacency going into the opening fixture. Fiji may be classed as a 'Tier 2' nation however in Stuart's eyes they are as stronger test for England as Ireland were this weekend. He articulated again what he will be imploring England to do on Talksport's Full Contact Show with Brian Moore later on Sunday night;
"I think that we have to get the basics right and the fundamentals of the game - that applies whether you are playing against Wales, Australia Fiji or New Zealand. You have to have good discipline, our defence has to be good because obviously they posses ball carrying threats across the park. Our set piece has to be strong and we have to get our game in the right areas of the field, not overplaying in the middle half of the field, not allowing them unstructured attack, and turning them a bit and making them play out before squeezing them as the game goes not. But, it is all very well said in theory you have to do it in practice and obviously come a week on Friday it is going to be a white hot atmosphere and we need to make sure that we can deliver under pressure."
England now have their last uninterrupted week of training before the Rugby World Cup whirlwind commences. This week the focus turns to Stuart and his coaching team to make the appropriate selection decisions to face the Fijian charge. Having witnessed first hand the quality of Fiji's rugby it highlights, even more, the importance of England's victory this weekend and again reinforces my viewpoint that Fiji are a very real threat, to England and to every side in Pool A.