England have been told to revel in the fact they are staging a Rugby World Cup, with forwards coach Graham Rowntree insisting Thursday the squad were set for the “time of their lives”.
Tournament hosts England launch the 2015 World Cup at Twickenham on Friday when they face Fiji in one of the toughest pools ever in World Cup history, with two-time champions Australia and Wales also battling for one of the two quarter-final places on offer in Pool A.
After a lengthy build-up, including two warm-up matches against France and one against Ireland, as well as months of speculation, England will finally have a match of consequence to focus on, with Fiji tipped to cause an upset at some stage during the pool phase.
Rowntree, however, was adamant that Pacific Nations champions Fiji would be under a searching spotlight as well come kick off in front of a full-house of more than 82,000 fans at Twickenham.
“There’s a lot of talk about this word ‘upset’, but we’ve prepared well for this game,” Rowntree told a Twickenham news conference on Thursday.
“For our guys, this is the time of their lives. They are on their own turf, in front of their families and friends, with potentially 15 million people watching on TV, 50 million country-wide supporting them.
“The players are aware of that support, so which team is the pressure on? That’s my question,” the former England prop added.
“We’ve been ready for a couple of weeks. We’ve trained exceptionally well. It’s been a long three months and it’s been a tough camp.
“We’ve had a good work-out against some great nations in France and Ireland in our warm-up games. The lads are fitter than they’ve ever been. I’m excited for them.”
Rowntree said the growing mood of anticipation reminded him of the build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“We are well aware of the excitement and support,” Rowntree said. “You can feel it walking around.
“It reminds me of the Olympics, when the whole country got behind it. It feels the same for me in this tournament, you can feel the support building and I think tomorrow (Friday) night we’ll show that.”