England ‘working hard to fix attack’ after patchy start to Rugby World Cup, says Richard Wigglesworth

England ‘working hard to fix attack’ after patchy start to Rugby World Cup, says Richard Wigglesworth

Richard Wigglesworth has admitted that England are not happy with their attacking game at the World Cup.

But England’s attack coach insisted the squad are working hard to fix their shortcomings in possession after a string of patchy performances.

Steve Borthwick’s side face Chile in Lille on Saturday, where victory would push England to the brink of the World Cup quarter-finals.

Captain Owen Farrell is expected to return to action for the third Pool D encounter, having completed his high-tackle suspension.


The Saracens fly-half will be itching to make his first appearance of the tournament, and Wigglesworth believes that Farrell’s mere availability has already boosted England this week.

England supporters heavily booed repeated tactical kicking during Sunday’s 34-12 bonus-point win over Japan in Nice, but Wigglesworth defended the strategy, despite accepting the fans’ right to voice their frustrations.

“We are not happy with where we are attack-wise and we are striving to improve,” said Wigglesworth. “That is not to do [solely] with the kicking game — it is not separate from it, either. It is all tied up. We want to kick the ball brilliantly, so we either get it back in a better position or we kick to score.

“As far as the booing goes, it is part and parcel of what you do in international sport. You are in the biggest arenas and the fans are entitled to do what they feel is right. We are all striving to improve, so we are as efficient as we can be with the ball. It is definitely better to kick for position than lose the ball.

“What we have seen in this World Cup so far, the most successful teams have had a very skilled and efficient kicking game. We are working on ours to make sure it is in the best possible position it can be.

“I am delighted for Owen that he’s available this week. He will raise the bar and raise the intensity. Any time he steps on the training field or the pitch you get a lift.”

England will most likely rotate their resources to take on Chile, a side ranked 22nd in the world. Farrell will need match sharpness after missing the past four Tests and may well step back into the No10 shirt on Saturday.

England could look to pair George Ford and Farrell at 10 and 12 come the knockout phase, though, and attack specialist Wigglesworth sees no reason for that partnership not to flourish again.

“It definitely can work, because it’s worked before for England,” said Wigglesworth of the Ford-Farrell combination. “They have played a lot of rugby together, so I’ve no doubt that if that’s the way Steve goes with selection, they will make it work.

“We want to be tactically flexible, so that’s where selection comes in: how you want to play and how you approach each game. We’ll have those conversations before each game. It’s great to have our captain back available and we’re spoiled that he’s played so much international rugby at 10 and 12.”

Marcus Smith has enjoyed cameo roles in the new position of auxiliary playmaker at full-back, and Wigglesworth hailed the Harlequin for jumping at his new challenge with England.

“He’s been really smart with how he has done it,” said Wigglesworth. “He wants the ball, he is desperate to get his hands on the ball, but he’s been really smart with where he positions himself and he hasn’t tried to play like a 10 out wide. It’s really testament to him about how smart he is.”