The autumn was launched in impressive fashion with a resounding 37-21 victory over South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, a result that ended a decade of failure against the Springboks.
After 11 defeats and a draw in their previous 12 meetings dating back to 2006, Eddie Jones’ men put the Springboks to the sword through tries from Jonny May, Courtney Lawes, George Ford and Owen Farrell.
May marked the conclusion of his injury-enforced spell in the international wilderness by finishing a slick score originating from a line-out, while Lawes celebrated his 50th cap by using his athleticism to complete an opportunistic counter-attack.
Elliot Daly’s full debut at outside centre mixed good with bad after the Wasps man initiated the move that led to Lawes crossing and landing a long-range penalty, but he was also thrown around on occasion.
Next up in the Old Mutual Wealth Series are the free-spirited Fijians, whose strengths lie in their athleticism and attacking wizardry, so Jones is hoping to frustrate them into submission.
“We just have to bore then to death. You go to Fiji and everyone is throwing 15-metre torpedo passes, flicking the ball through their legs, side stepping,” Jones said.
“If they can’t do that they get bored. If they get bored they don’t want to play and when they do that you get points against them.
England emerged handsome 35-11 winners against Fiji in last autumn’s World Cup opener, but the scoreline failed to reflect a match that saw the hosts lead just 18-11 heading into the final quarter.
“We spent Friday night watching Fiji. The last time England played Fiji at Twickenham it was a very inconclusive performance,” Jones said.
In a sign of Jones’ confidence in the number of weapons in England’s armoury, the head coach insists the weather against Fiji is irrelevant after scoring four tries against South Africa in damp conditions.
“The weather doesn’t matter. My wife said to me that I always used to worry about the rain with other teams and now you don’t,” Jones said.
“That’s because it doesn’t matter with this team - we are completely adaptable.”
Fiji provide the weakest opposition of the autumn, but Jones has ruled out making extensive changes out of a desire to preserve the value of an England cap.
“I want people to deserve their opportunity. To start for England has to be the proudest thing of their lives and to do that you have to earn it,” Jones said.
“We want to keep improving the team, so there are guys that I want to have a look at who I think may be better than the guys I have in now, so there may be opportunities for others.
“I’m only going to select people who are better than what we have at the moment or potentially can be better.”
Among those certain to retain his place is scrum-half Ben Youngs, who set up tries for George Ford and Owen Farrell by duping giant South Africa flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit with two dummies.
“Ben has got an athletic advantage because he’s a big lad for a half-back. He weighs 88 or 89 kilos, depending on how many lollies he has eaten!” Jones said.
“He’s got a nice turn of pace and a nice awareness of space. We want to develop that running game with him. He’s got an exceptional kicking game.
“The only other half-back I’ve seen with a kicking game like him is Fourie du Preez and Ben can have the same influence for us that Fourie du Preez had on the Springboks.
“We want to be the sort of team who can play completely off nine, completely off 10 or completely off 12. That will make us so hard to defend against.”
Tries: May, Lawes, Ford, Farrell. Cons: Farrell 4. Pens: Farrell 2, Daly.
Brown, Yarde, Daly, Farrell, May, Ford, Youngs, M. Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Robshaw, Wood, B. Vunipola.
Care for Youngs (68), Marler for M. Vunipola (63), George for Hartley (57), Hughes for Wood (54).
Tries: Goosen, le Roux. Cons: Combrinck. Pens: Lambie 2. Drop Goals: Lambie.
le Roux, Combrinck, Venter, de Allende, Pietersen, Lambie, Paige, Mtawarira, Strauss, Koch, Etzebeth, de Jager, Alberts, du Toit, Whiteley. Replacements: Goosen for Lambie (55), F. de Klerk for Paige (63), Kitshoff for Mtawarira (56), Carr for de Jager (68).
Jerome Garces (France)