Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Rugby World Cup 2019: 'Past is irrelevant' for England ahead of quarter-final against Australia

Ben Youngs insists recent failures in 2011 and 2015 will have no bearing on Saturday's game against the Wallabies

Ben Youngs, left, with George Ford, who has been dropped to the bench for England's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia. Getty Images
Ben Youngs, left, with George Ford, who has been dropped to the bench for England's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia. Getty Images

England's rocky recent World Cup record will count for nothing when they lock horns with fierce rivals Australia in Saturday's crunch quarter-final, insists Ben Youngs.

The Leicester scrum-half warned on Friday that Eddie Jones's side were a different animal to the 2015 flops - who became the first World Cup hosts to crash out in the pool stage - and would be ready for anything the Wallabies throw at them in Oita.

"Obviously if you compare it to 2015 it's very different," said Youngs, also one of four England players this weekend who were involved in the 2011 quarter-final defeat to France.

"For us what's happened in the past is irrelevant. Clearly we weren't good enough in '11 or '15 - but in '19 we feel we're more than capable of achieving something."

England's 33-13 defeat by Australia ultimately cost them a place in the knockout stage four years ago under Stuart Lancaster's doomed stewardship.

Despite a six-game losing streak against England, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has backed his players to spring another upset, declaring: "The fear inside us is dead."

But Youngs believes the two weeks England have spent preparing in Miyazaki, after last week's devastating typhoon washed out their final pool fixture against France, has helped their cause.

"We've certainly been able to get our teeth into Australia a lot earlier," he said. "We basically have to make sure we take the game to them, get ourselves on the front foot and come out with an intensity that marries up with our preparation," Youngs said.

"The waiting's over now. It's great that so many people will be cheering (in England) tomorrow, up early, wearing the shirt - we certainly feed off that."

Youngs started in England's 19-12 loss to France the last time they reached a World Cup quarter-final and predicts that building an early lead will be key against Australia.

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Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists take part in training sessions

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"It's a fantastic occasion, I was lucky to play in one," he said, calling for England to be "relaxed and clear-thinking" at the weekend. "I suppose my experience of that is just making sure the intensity of the game doesn't shock you at the beginning.

"I imagine the first 20 minutes will be pretty full-on, so we've got to make sure we get off to the start that we want."

With captain Owen Farrell switching to fly-half in place of George Ford, Jones selected a fit-again Henry Slade alongside Manu Tuilagi in a dynamic midfield pairing.

"Henry can play, he can run, he can kick - he's an all-rounder," said Tuilagi. "For him to be back just adds a massive part to our game, especially with Faz at 10."

Updated: October 18, 2019 11:02 AM

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