Andy Farrell insists the commitment of England’s players during their two-week World Cup training camp in Denver has been “awe-inspiring”.
The 45-strong squad returns from Colorado this weekend following a fortnight of gruelling sessions – sometimes totalling four a day – conducted at altitude and amid temperatures scaling 32C.
Only two days of kayaking, fishing and golf have offered respite from the arduous task of preparing for England 2015, which opens against Fiji on September 18.
Backs coach Farrell refuses to be drawn into any mind games with Group A rivals Wales, who have been trumpeting the value of their camps in Switzerland and Qatar, instead focusing on the efforts of his own players.
“The desire of the squad to get through one gruelling session together was absolutely awe-inspiring from a coach’s point of view,” Farrell said.
“They have been digging in together and suffering together and will come out a better team because of that.
“You get to know the players better because they’ve had to dig deep.
“We’re not flogging them, but asking them questions about their ability to execute skills wise while under pressure and in extreme conditions. We’ve seen who can cope with that and who can’t.
“The players couldn’t have given any more. In fact we had to hold back on Friday because this week has been pretty brutal.
“Everyone says they’ve had the best pre-season of all time, but we’re unbelievably happy with the plan and how it’s going.
“The boys are 100 per cent committed to the cause. The pain and excitement they have been going through together has been plain to see.”
Farrell insists Bath’s rugby league convert Sam Burgess remains a contender for the final 31-man World Cup squad after acquitting himself well during inter-squad matches at inside centre.
England will only consider Burgess at 12 due to his lack of line-out expertise and their own need for midfield firepower. Farrell also confirmed that son Owen Farrell has been run at 12 during the sessions.
“With three teams available at times, we’ve been able to swap it around. It’s been very interesting to see whether players can cope with changes of position. Twelve has to be an option for Owen,” Farrell said.