Jason Robinson: I think England will surprise at the World Cup

Jason Robinson in action for England

Former England rugby international and Betway ambassador Jason Robinson recently shared his candid thoughts on England's preparations and prospects for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

In a comprehensive interview, Robinson dissected England's form, coaching changes, identity crisis, key player injuries, and his predictions for the tournament.

Warm-Up Performances: A Cause for Concern

Robinson wasted no time addressing England's recent form, which he believes has not lived up to the high standards expected of the team. "England aren't where they would have wanted to be going into such a big World Cup," he declared. "Their form, probably for the last two years, has been off for English standards."

He acknowledged that changes in coaching staff, with Eddie Jones departing and Steve Borthwick taking over, may have contributed to the team's struggles. However, he emphasized the importance of England regaining their identity and game plan.

The Search for Identity

Robinson voiced concern over England's lack of a clear identity compared to other teams in the competition. "You look at certain teams within the competition, and you know what you're getting from them," he noted. "Whereas I think we've just lost our way, and that then is eating into our confidence coming into the World Cup."

He expressed that despite the talent pool and players at England's disposal, their form doesn't match their potential. Robinson firmly distinguished between not playing well and being a bad team, asserting that England falls into the former category.

The Challenge of Coaching Transition

Robinson addressed the transition from Eddie Jones to Steve Borthwick, highlighting that such changes take time. He urged the team to turn the current negative atmosphere into a positive and expressed his belief in the character of England's players.

He noted that the team's uncertainty about combinations and positions, especially at fly-half and in the midfield, adds to their challenges.

The World Cup Challenge

Robinson reminisced about the thrill of playing in a Rugby World Cup, emphasizing that it's the ultimate stage where players aim to test themselves against the best. He noted that England is not alone in facing form issues, with teams like Wales and Australia in similar positions, aiming to prove themselves in the tournament.

He praised England's relatively favorable pool stage but acknowledged the competitive nature of the overall World Cup, predicting that it will be the most competitive ever.

Faith in Steve Borthwick

Robinson expressed confidence in the coaching abilities of Steve Borthwick, acknowledging his past successes at Leicester. He underscored that the team's issues extend beyond coaching and require rebuilding players' confidence.

He highlighted that England's coaching staff is putting in significant effort and that coaching can be a stressful endeavor. Robinson hoped that the World Cup would help the team rediscover their identity and play with a smile on their faces.

Key Injuries and Suspension

Robinson addressed the injuries to Jack van Poortvliet and Anthony Watson, emphasizing the importance of quick ball at scrum-half and the need to compete in the kicking game. He noted the challenges of new tackle laws affecting taller players and lamented the loss of suspended players Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola in the early games.

England's World Cup Prospects

While acknowledging England's difficulties, Robinson predicted that they would reach the semi-finals. He hoped the team would surprise critics and provide a much-needed boost to English rugby. He emphasized that England has the talent and ability to compete with any team in the world.

World Cup Predictions

Robinson picked South Africa as his World Cup winner, citing their power, pace, and experience. He highlighted the impact of physical forwards coming off the bench.

He also identified Fiji as a potential surprise package in the tournament, particularly if they decide to turn on the style. Robinson was particularly impressed with emerging talent Kurt-Lee Arendse, who he believed could make a significant impact on the world stage.

As the Rugby World Cup approaches, Robinson's insights provide valuable perspective on England's journey and the challenges they face on the road to redemption. Rugby fans around the world will eagerly await the tournament's kickoff, hoping for a thrilling and competitive event.