The World Cup is up and running and my only concern about England against Tonga later on Sunday morning, and it is the only concern, is that I want to see evidence of discipline and players being totally aware of when they are getting into situations where they are likely to concede penalties and, worse still, cards.
This is my one major fear throughout this tournament. England are packed with spicy characters, which I love, who play close to the edge — Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Owen Farrell.
In one way that’s brilliant — the likes of Martin Johnson and Lawrence Dallaglio played close to the edge as well — but England also need to keep 15 players on the park at all times.
England have players like Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler and George Kruis who live close to the edge
That's the one worry for England at the World Cup, staying disciplined with 15 men on the pitch
I want to see that this message has sunk in. In opening games referees should be on to everything looking to set the tone for the tournament and the Tongans will be physical and confrontational.
There will be flash points make no mistake, even if England are winning comfortably on the scoreboard.
Sides throughout this tournament, and especially at the business end, will look to niggle England. Don’t put referees for future England games on alert by ill-discipline first time out.
Elsewhere I am looking for perfection at the set-pieces or the basics of the game — scrums, line-outs and restarts — because that is the foundation rock for a winning campaign and England must have those three sources of possession nailed down in every match. They must also disrupt the opposition in those three departments.
And let’s see this England side operate at pace, the exceptional speed of thought and deed they demonstrated against Ireland at Twickenham. With all due respect to Tonga and indeed the US on Thursday, if England do that they won’t be able to live with them.
You can guarantee that the one thing Toutai Kefu and his Tongan team will be hoping for Sunday in Sapporo is for England to slow things down and play a more static game. They have some big physical guys and that’s their one chance of matching England for a while, to grapple, disrupt and frustrate.
Toutai Kefu and his Tongan team will be hoping to slow things down against England
But if England can engage top gear form the off they can dispirit the opposition early on and make life comfortable for themselves.
England must not be content with scrappy “we got the job done” sort of win followed by the usual quotes about the World Cup being a marathon not a sprint. I want to see England quick out of the blocks and making some noise from the off.
Although England minds will have been on Tonga on Saturday they will have clocked France’s win over the Pumas and my initial reaction is that it doesn’t make qualifying from the pool any more straightforward. Assuming no upsets against Tonga and the US, England’s game against the Pumas will be their first big test while it will be Argentina’s do-or-die World cup final, they will be on the plane home if they lose. That match is now massive.
France against Argentina was entertaining if a little error strewn. The French were imperious for 40 minutes, with Antoine Dupont running the show