Former England wing Ugo Monye has backed the side to progress from their Rugby World Cup pool despite admitting to being “frustrated” with their current form.
The Red Rose went down to a shock defeat to Fiji at Twickenham last weekend, their third loss in four matches, with the pressure mounting ahead of the tournament.
England head coach Steve Borthwick, who replaced now Wallabies boss Eddie Jones, has cut a disappointed figure in the stands and in front of the media after a record of just three wins in his first nine games at the helm, with pundit Monye clearly irked by the form of the side as he believes they are not playing as a team.
“I totally get the frustration, I’m frustrated,” he told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
“I’m seeing a team of 33 individuals, or at the weekend 23 individuals, that aren’t playing to their potential and a gameplan that I don’t think brings the best out in them.”
Indeed, it’s been a poor Rugby World Cup warm-up campaign for England and the sight of empty seats at Twickenham last weekend spoke volumes of their showings.
They must now regroup and get things right on the training field ahead of their Rugby World Cup opener against Pool D rivals Argentina in Marseille on September 9.
They will be without both Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola for that match as the duo serve a suspension, with Monye feeling the team needs to make drastic changes.
“We can talk about stats all we like, but the most gruelling and objective stats we have is games played versus games won and lost and it would be an indication that this current gameplan they have doesn’t quite suit this current trend of how rugby is going or doesn’t suit the squad,” he continued on England’s form.
“I want to see these boys go and deliver what I think they are capable of delivering.
“Has my faith been waivered over the last four weeks? It’s been tested but am I less convinced England will make it out their pool based on what I saw at the weekend? No, I still think they will. And that’s the juxtaposition when you’re talking about England, they haven’t played well and lost three of four matches this summer but I still believe they will be in a World Cup quarter-final.”
Drop to eighth
England’s disappointing build-up to the World Cup is reflected in the last global rankings to be published before the tournament begins, as they drop to eighth.
Borthwick’s men have fallen two places from sixth following the 30-22 loss by Fiji – registering their joint lowest position in the standings’ 20-year history.
After facing Argentina in their opening fixture of the competition, the Red Rose will take on Japan (September 17), Chile (September 23 and Samoa (October 7).