Brad Barritt has revealed England aim to be the World Cup’s meanest side after identifying a watertight defence as their key weapon.
The hosts open their challenge for the Webb Ellis Cup against Fiji at Twickenham on Friday in the first match of a fiendishly difficult Pool A which also includes Wales and Australia.
“We’ve made a goal for ourselves at this World Cup – to be the best defensive team,” said Barritt, England’s defensive lynchpin.
“We want to be the most physical team. We want to be a team that has an offence and defence that causes a team to make errors and as a result gets some opportunities off the back of that.
“There will be games when our defence is going to be called into action a bit more, but we are definitely a team that wants to back our defence.
“We are quite comfortable if we have to go 30 or 40 phases in defence but we don’t concede or give away cheap points or penalties.
“It is a defence that is prepared for everything but again we want to get results off the back of it. The whole point of defence is to get the ball back.”
The squad was empowered by an emotional presentation from head coach Stuart Lancaster that has instilled the conviction they will be crowned global champions.
Lancaster addressed his squad at their Surrey training camp on Sunday night, using a video to help strike the right chord for a career-defining event.
“Basically all I was doing was articulating my belief and trying to build their belief that they can go on and win the tournament. Not in an arrogant way, but in a positive way,” Lancaster said.
“Why would we do all the work and get here and then think ‘can we, can’t we?’ We’ve just got to believe we can. It was about building belief.”
Barritt found the presentation particularly poignant given an injury-troubled international career that most recently saw him miss the RBS 6 Nations and the two warm-up matches against France.
“It was a fantastic meeting, quite moving for every player. Everyone left feeling a bigger part of something special and feeling really honoured to be a part of this ride,” Barritt said.
“Both the video and the way Stuart spoke was hugely emotive. I have no doubt it will resonate throughout the squad.
“The video showcased a young player coming through the ranks, dreaming of playing for England and playing in a home World Cup.”