Jamie George has been tapping into the brains behind England’s cricket World Cup triumph as Eddie Jones’ men plot their assault on rugby’s great prize.
George has spoken to Eoin Morgan, England’s one-day captain, who has presided over a remarkable climb to the summit of the game with last month’s victory over New Zealand in the Lord’s final.
England’s rugby team depart for their own World Cup in Japan on September 8 and George can see similarities in the fortunes of the teams.
“I know Eoin Morgan through Saracens and Jason Roy through my mate Sam Billings,” Lions hooker George said.
“You can see the parallels in how they had some pretty disappointing campaigns, some tough losses. Very much like us.
“There aren’t direct parallels in terms of the way the game is played, but in the team culture and the rest of it.
“That’s something Eoin Morgan is very keen on talking about so I have chatted about that with him before.
“He is a very impressive bloke and I have learnt a huge amount from him in terms of what he has done with the England cricket team.
“We have been through very similar challenges. To see them come out the other side and be crowned world champions is fully deserved and I’m very proud of them doing that.”
Cory Hill has welcomed Wales’ demanding Rugby World Cup warm-up programme and predicted they will be “flat-out” Test matches.
Wales play England and Ireland home and away in the next month, starting with a trip to Twickenham next Sunday.
It is a testing schedule which has raised eyebrows in some quarters, and Wales coach Warren Gatland hopes history does not repeat itself with key players lost to injury.
Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb both missed the 2015 World Cup after being injured in the final pre-tournament game four years ago.
“That’s rugby union,” Hill said philosophically. “You’re going to get injuries no matter what games you play.
“You can still pick up knocks if you play nations lower down (the rankings).
“Playing England and Ireland is the biggest challenge we could have before the World Cup.
“They will be flat-out Test matches against teams in the top five in the world. They are local derbies as well, so there’s a little bit more to add to it.
“We certainly won’t be under-cooked going to the World Cup because I’m sure everyone will get game-time in those matches.”
Hill has not played since his try-scoring heroics during the Six Nations victory over England in February.
It was a bittersweet moment for the Dragons lock forward as he badly damaged an ankle in the act of scoring.
“It was a pretty special moment,” said Hill, who captained Wales at the Under-20 World Cup in 2012.
“But it probably lasted for 30 seconds until I realised I’d done the injury.
“You can’t really complain. I’d had a pretty good run before that and you’ve got to deal with it.
“You’ve got to get yourself in the right frame of mind to get back out there and fit again.
“I’m ready to go now after putting it in during pre-season and it would be nice to play England again.”
Thank you for all of your messages of support. Disappointed with how things have turned out, and to miss out on the chance to represent Wales at RWC 2019 - but it wasn’t meant to be. Wishing the rest of the squad every success going forward. See you soon. pic.twitter.com/ffZLJcsQxa— Taulupe Faletau (@taulupe) August 2, 2019
The 27-year-old is almost certain to make Wales’ 31-man World Cup squad in Japan next month.
As well as his strong claims to be skipper Alun-Wyn Jones’ second-row partner, Hill also provides a back-row option at six as Wales seek to build on Grand Slam glory and a 14-game unbeaten streak.
That flexibility could be crucial, especially as British & Irish Lions back-rower Taulupe Faletau was ruled out of the World Cup this week with a collarbone injury.
“I’ll play tight-head if they want me to,” Hill said.
“I played six for the Dragons for four or five games over the Christmas derbies and the European games and I enjoyed my time there.
“It’s another feather to the cap I suppose and if I’m needed to cover six I will do it. But I’m concentrating on lock at the moment.”
Elliot Daly has ruled out a de-escalation in the England v Wales rivalry when the old rivals clash at Twickenham next Sunday.
It is the opening instalment in a run of four warm-up Tests leading into the Rugby World Cup and the first of a double header, home and away, against Warren Gatland’s Grand Slam champions.
While the matches are used to tune-up teams in advance of the global showpiece, Daly insists the enmity between England and Wales means only one thing.
“It’s a Test match so intensity will be brought. It will definitely be similar to a Six Nations game,” Daly said.
“It’s an international. You can’t be talking about not going for those games, especially as there is only four games before the World Cup starts.
“Every time we play Wales it is a brilliant atmosphere and you are always going to get good support. It will be a great crowd vibe and it’s always a great game.
“I have played Wales in an end-of-season game in June so I’m pretty sure it won’t be different to when we are playing them in Six Nations.”
Eddie Jones names his final World Cup squad in between the two fixtures with Daly, the Saracens-bound full-back who also covers centre and wing, a certainty to be departing for Japan on September 8.
As one of England’s most dangerous players, only injury can prevent him from being involved, yet the 26-year-old still intends going full throttle during the warm-up games.
“Everyone at the moment is actually really looking forward to these games to show what we can do,” he said.
“We want to get that team cohesion we have been looking for during training in the last few weeks.
“If you start thinking about not getting injured then that is when you tend to do get injured and stuff doesn’t seem to go as you would wish.
“The way we are looking at these games is to really improve before the World Cup and put our best foot forward.”