Ben Youngs has urged England to “fight right until the end” when they collide with Australia in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final at Oita Stadium.
The biggest moment of the Eddie Jones era arrives on the island of Kyushu as four years of build-up to Japan 2019 reaches a win or bust clash with the Wallabies that could shape the head coach’s future.
England have compiled a six-match winning run against Australia and enter the first of the weekend’s quarter-finals as clear favourites, but the Wallabies are battle hardened by a tougher group campaign.
Jones has called on his players to summon their samurai spirit, declaring “every time the samurais fought, one lived and one died” and Youngs has continued the theme.
“You aren’t going to go out there and accept things not going your way. You are going to fight right until the end,” the Leicester scrum-half said.
“We have some boys in this team who don’t know when they are beaten and I’m sure it goes without saying for any team participating this weekend that they will fight until the very end.”
Four years ago they failed to reach the knockout phase, making Youngs’ experience invaluable.
“The message has been to take the game to them. The waiting’s over now, so it’s about going out there with intensity,” Youngs said.
“A World Cup quarter-final is a fantastic occasion. I was fortunate enough to play in 2011 …my experience of that is just about making sure the intensity of the game doesn’t shock you in the beginning.
“France raced ahead into a lead that day and we couldn’t pull ourselves back, so it’s down to making sure we come out of the blocks and bring that intensity from the start.
“I’m sure they will be saying the same thing, so I imagine the first 20 minutes will be pretty full-on. We need to make sure we get the start we want.”
England sprang a major surprise in selection by dropping George Ford and naming Owen Farrell at fly-half as part of a beefed up midfield that includes Tuilagi and Henry Slade.
Jones explained that the decision was shaped by the rampaging form of Australia centre Samu Kerevi, adding that his team want to defend with “brutality” against Michael Cheika’s underdogs.
“We enjoy defence, it’s part of our game. It’s infectious to us, it gives us energy,” defence coach John Mitchell said.
“Ultimately we want to be physical. It’s important to dominate the collision. That creates slowness of ball and it brings opportunities. Ultimately, defence is a form of attack and you have to feed your attack.
“Australia come with so many different threats, they are clever and they enjoy playing with width. It certainly makes everyone in our team aware.”