Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Betham fears England backlash

Samoa coach Stephen Betham believes England are the complete package and is expecting a backlash from Stuart Lancaster's side at Twickenham on Saturday.

England will be desperate to end a run of five consecutive Test defeats when they meet the Samoans, including four at the hands of world champions New Zealand and one against South Africa.

A particularly disappointing display against the Springboks last Saturday suggests Lancaster's side are a long way off winning the World Cup on home soil next year. Betham disagrees, however.

"England are pretty complete at the moment," the Samoa coach said.

"Although they had five losses, those losses were very close and could have gone either way.

"We are expecting England to be at their strongest. Although they've had some positional changes, I'm sure the coaching staff have some tricks up their sleeve.

"England are still ranked going into the next World Cup in the top five in the world which we haven't achieved, so it is a good test for us to know where we stand."

The last time Samoa played at Twickenham was November 2010, when England had to come from behind in the second half to win 26-13.

Lancaster's side will be hoping a strong performance on Saturday can kick-start their autumn campaign ahead of a crunch final fixture against Australia.

"Are England under pressure? In any Test match there is pressure especially when you lose a few games in a row," Betham said.

"Good sides always get up again though, and we are expecting a really fired-up English team this weekend.

"We are not there to make up the numbers - we are going there to compete."

Lancaster has made six changes to his starting XV, with George Ford set to make his full international debut at fly-half alongside Owen Farrell at inside centre.

All eyes will be on England's back-line which has lacked cohesion and creativity in recent matches, but Betham insists Samoa have to focus on themselves.

"Playing Ford and Farrell together is unusual but sometimes we can get carried away with what England are doing," Betham said.

"We can be our own worst enemies so we have concentrated a lot on what we can do better."


From Belfast Telegraph