Japan head coach Eddie Jones believes England captain Chris Robshaw is going to have a tough time containing Australia’s loose forwards on Saturday.
Robshaw will have to contend with the likes of David Pocock, who Jones rates as the best fetcher in world rugby at the moment.
“To me, Robshaw is an outstanding club player, but at international level he just doesn’t have that point of difference,” wrote Jones in the Daily Mail.
“He carries okay, he tackles okay, but he’s not outstandingly good in any area. I think that is his limiting factor. He’s a good workmanlike player, but he does not have the specialist skills and the instinct as an openside that Pocock has.”
Teamed up with Pocock will be Michael Hooper, who could also create some problems for the hosts at the breakdown. Jones indicated that the breakdown will likely be a high contested area, one that Australia should win.
“The breakdown will be a key area of the game on Saturday and Australia can dominate there because England simply don’t have the specialist skills to compete with them,” he added.
“David Pocock is an out-and-out fetcher. At the moment, there is no-one in the world better than him over the ball. Stuart Lancaster doesn’t have that sort of fetcher in his team.
“Australia will have two opensides in their back row, so they are expected to dominate the ruck contest and I can’t see it going any other way with the teams that are going to be selected.
“Ben Morgan and Tom Wood don’t play over the ball, and Robshaw only half does it, so it looks like an uphill battle for England.”
In terms of solving England’s problem, Jones suggests Lancaster should have picked Toulon’s Steffan Armitage, who has proved his worth at the French club, in particular at the breakdown.
“Steffon Armitage is pretty hard and handy over the ball and would definitely bring that quality to the England side,” he said.
“I reckon needing a specialist openside at a World Cup should count as an exceptional circumstance, to allow Lancaster to pick him.”
England face Australia in a do-or-die encounter at Twickenham on Saturday.