Steve Borthwick insists England will urgently address the defensive crisis that threatens to torpedo their Word Cup.
Fiji plundered three tries in a seismic 30-22 victory at Twickenham as England’s preparation for the tournament in France continue to unravel amid a run of five defeats in six games.
Most concerning of all is a defence overseen by Kevin Sinfield that has now been breached 30 times in Borthwick’s nine Tests in charge, each outing seeing an average of 26 points leaked.
Fiji were typically ruthless in attack but also met willing victims and with the World Cup opener against Argentina arriving in less than two weeks, England must resurrect a fundamental of their game.
Borthwick has stated that he is happy with his management team as scrutiny of Sinfield’s work grows, but the head coach is demanding an immediate improvement in the team’s work without the ball.
“I’m very clear that I was disappointed with the defence. We conceded too many tries and we missed too many tackles,” Borthwick said.
“Our focus is on ensuring we are much better than that against Argentina in two weeks’ time.
“The dropping off tackles has not been the case with what we’ve seen recently, but there were a lot against Fiji – more than 20 missed tackles. I think the total was 27.
“Now Fiji have exceptional power and speed, and that hurt us. But what we have to do is look at those tackles and what we could have done better.
“We didn’t want that result. We were clearly disappointed by the game and disappointed by aspects of that performance.
“Whilst there are areas of our performance which saw signs of growth, you can’t slip off that many tackles in a Test match.”