John McKee: Pressure on England against Fiji

And part of the answer may be provided tomorrow morning when the hosts kick off the tournament in a fascinating clash against a risky Fiji at Twickenham.


Joe Schmidt’s very first Rugby World Cup game and meeting Jamie Cudmore’s Canada straight out of the gate could be Ireland’s toughest fixture of the first fortnight.

“All the players have put their hand up in training and during the internationals we have played this summer”.

“It’s a great amount of faith taken by them, and obviously I’m grateful for that”, Morgan told BBC Radio 5 live.

“The real pressure is on England and, for us, it s everything to gain through our performance”. “I’ve got tremendous respect for him as a player”.

While England will hope to make the most of the fervour of home support, McKee said the enduring importance of rugby union to countries in the Pacific had to be seen to be believed.

Replacement prop Kieran Brookes meanwhile says playing in a World Cup is a “massive dream come true”, especially given he only made his full worldwide debut last June. “My advice will be to focus on winning one game at a time, and play each minute as it comes”. It’s like Rugby World Cup 2015 is coming to you – I love that.

It’s a shame because I think they’ll win the hearts of fans and probably deserve better than the cards they’ve been dealt, but sadly I think Fiji’s fate will be decided before the final weekend of the pool stages, having given it a great crack in a couple of the big games. And yet even their own rugby director, Rob Andrew, is more hopeful than confident they will peak enough over the next six weeks. Halfpenny’s absence could be particularly tough in a pool where points difference could be a factor in deciding which teams go through to the last eight.

Fiji have worked hard at giving themselves a fighting chance against England, Wales and Australia, adding defensive structure and set-piece stability to the vast array of attacking talent that is their hallmark.

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Strength, vision, determination, courage, composure, endurance and aggression were some of the qualities in the forefront of our minds when compiling this list as we persevered to find the players who would best suit the sport of rugby. It reminds me of the Olympics three years ago, when the whole country got behind it.


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Nia and Ieuan at the Wales v Italy match in Rome in 2007. Ieuan who was diagnosed with a brain tumour would love to see Wales play in this year's Rugby World Cup