England will look to maintain their 2016 unbeaten streak when they take on Fiji at Twickenham late on Saturday afternoon.
Eddie Jones’ England will be looking to make it 11 wins on the trot when they take on a beleaguered Fijian side. The visitors were absolutely dreadful against the Barbarians last week and will have to up their game tenfold if they are to compete with this English juggernaut.
England v Fiji | Saturday 19 November | Twickenham | 16:30
To Win (80 Mins)
England 1/100 | Draw 33/1 | Fiji 14/1
England (-40.5) 9/10| Fiji (+40.5) 9/10
Do not adjust your TV sets rugby fans, the Eddie Jones' revolution is in full effect and you’re not going to want to miss what’s to come. The former Japan mentor has taken this ragtag English side and turned them into a tactically astute winning machine.
While every Englishmen has been revived by Jones’ presence, the man who has enjoyed the biggest renaissance under the new head coach is Bath pivot, George Ford. The youngster had a horrid World Cup and looked to be slowly slipping into the ‘huge potential but no composure’ category that the likes of Dan Cipriani have made home. The young gun has seen his stock rise drastically this term and his partnership with Owen Farrell, who has been moved to inside centre to accommodate Ford, looks exceedingly promising.
The aforementioned youngsters are likely to play no part in England’s game against Fiji though as they are both in need of a well-deserved rest. Farrell’s inside-centre berth is likely to by Samoan-born Ben Teo. And while there is talk of Farrell reverting back to flyhalf for this one, I think Jones will see sense and give Farrell’s understudy at Saracens, Alex Lozowski, a run at 10.
Jones is also likely to rest a large percentage of his forwards, who have been vital during England’s 11-match unbeaten run. Prop Mako Vunipoala has been carrying a hip injury since the turn of the year and is likely to be given a week off. The Saracens bruiser is likely to be replaced by the fit-again Joe Marler. Mako is likely to be joined by brother Billy in the Twickenham crowd, as he has also played a plethora of rugby this term.
I have to be brutally honest here and admit I was extremely underwhelmed by Fiji’s performance against the Barbarians last week. While I always thought the Barbarians would win by a comfortable margin, I didn’t expect Fiji to provide such little resistance.
This was by no means a bad Fijian side that took to the Kingspan last Saturday with Super Rugby campaigners Nemani Nadolo, Ben Volavola and Campese Ma’afu all donning the white jersey. And yet, the Pacific islanders only managed to run in a solitary try; a rather astounding stat for a nation that has the best Sevens side in world rugby.
Things won’t get much easier for the Islanders this week as they are coming up against an English side that's fringe players will be chomping at the bit to establish themselves in Eddie Jones' long-term plans.
Verdict: England (-40.5) 9/10The overseas bookies have opened their 9/10 handicap markets up between the 41 and 44 point mark. And while this is a large handicap, I still fancy England to clear it. The weather forecast looks good and the fringe players that Jones selects will be looking to make their mark.