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OPINION:Here they come. That sweet chariot appears to be rumbling into form at just the right time ahead of a Rugby World Cup in Japan that might be the most contestable it has ever been.
Yes, we are talking Eddie Jones’ ominous England. The sleeping giant appears to have woken to its task in the nick of time as the preparation phase for competing teams in Japan nears its end. That had to be the chief takeaway from their impressive eight-try shellacking of Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday (NZT).
Of course, Steve Hansen’s All Blacks will be the favourites as they bid for a fourth title in all and an unprecedented third on the bounce when the global tournament kicks off on September 20 in Tokyo. That’s pretty much a given, no matter what the bizarre world rankings process may tell you.
But among the top-tier of contenders, that Hansen long ago noted was the deepest it had ever been at a World Cup, we can now well and truly underline England. Love ’em or hate ’em – and there’s plenty in both camps – Eddie’s army finally appear ready to let rip with both barrels in Japan.
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There’s nowt as dangerous in rugby terms as an England side with its big guns all fit and its confidence and belief up. Both appear the case in the wake of the 57-15 dismantling of Joe Schmidt’s faltering Irish. The last time the red roses headed to the global tournament with the sort of swagger they’ll likely take into Japan, they lifted the golden trophy on the back of Jonny Wilkinson’s extra-time heroics in Australia in 2003.
There is that sort of a feel about this England team which has heavy-hitters such as Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell and Joe Cokanasiga all r
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