Ford ready for 'group of death'
Defence coach Mike Ford has described England's World Cup pool as the "group of death".
England open their campaign against Argentina, who finished third at the last World Cup, in Dunedin next Saturday before tackling Georgia, Romania and then Scotland. Ford's view may raise the odd eyebrow among the Welsh, who have been grouped with defending champions South Africa, Samoa and Fiji.
"It is about being hardened. The last game we played was perfect for us to be ready for a real tough game in that first one (against Argentina)," said Ford. "If we don't treat Argentina with the utmost respect we will come unstuck - if you are not on your game in this tournament you will probably lose. We are probably in the group of death because Scotland are playing very well at the minute."
Four years ago, New Zealand cruised into the quarter-finals but then came unstuck when faced with their first true test, against France in Cardiff.
England may be favourites to win the group but it will not be a cakewalk - and Ford believes that should stand the team in good stead as they move deeper into the tournament.
"You don't want to go to a quarter-final winning by 100 points in every game because it will be a shock when you come up against a team that can play a bit," added Ford.
"The fact we have Argentina first and the rest of the games in that order we feel is good for us after that game in Dublin."