England itching to get going but Maro Itoje wary of Tonga’s physical threat

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• Squad are bonding well but looking forward to action
• Itoje: Sunday’s game in Sapporo cannot be taken lightly

Monday was a national holiday in Japan to honour the elderly. It was fitting, then, that when Billy Vunipola appeared on stage at England’s World Cup welcome ceremony he declared his World Cup wish to be that he and his teammates grow old and grey and still fondly reflect on this tournament. “I wish that whatever we do in the next few weeks will live with us for the rest of our lives.”

If it was a surprise that Vunipola did not opt for what everyone in the audience expected – that England win the World Cup – it was clearly rehearsed and undoubtedly on message. It was a soundbite that points to team unity, or “social cohesion” as Eddie Jones calls it, which has been among the head coach’s top priorities in the buildup to this World Cup.

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Written by Gerard Meagher in Miyazaki
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/sep/16/england-maro-itoje-tonga-rugby-world-cup under the title “England itching to get going but Maro Itoje wary of Tonga’s physical threat”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.