England stamp out penalties with training-ground regime
Ben Youngs revealed players who make mistakes worthy of penalties receive “a bit of a flogging” from fitness coaches.
England have addressed their indiscipline issues by punishing players who make mistakes worthy of conceding a penalty during training.
Veteran scrum-half Ben Youngs revealed that Eddie Jones introduced the measure during the build-up to the World Cup in the hope of eradicating the type of error that has long been an Achilles heel.
Any players who commit offences such as staying offside are punished by being made to do a series of gruelling exercises.
England face New Zealand in Saturday’s semi-final and Youngs, who will continue at scrum-half when the team is announced on Thursday, knows his team must be pinpoint in their accuracy if they are to topple the world champions.
“We put a big emphasis on our discipline throughout pre-season and at the weekend it’s going to be absolutely vital for that,” Youngs said.
“If boys did things in training they were sent to the corner of the pitch to get a bit of a flogging and stuff.
“The punishment would be a few down-ups, a few runs – it’s normally the big boys who spent the time there and they would go with the (strength and conditioning) coach.
“It’s something that we haven’t always been terrific at, but certainly in this tournament we’ve been very, very good.
“We’ve been pleased at how we’ve been able to make sure we’ve stayed disciplined.
“I didn’t get a flogging, I was too disciplined so I never went there. It was just for things like offsides and everything like that.”
The most recent time the rivals clashed was at Twickenham last autumn when a controversial offside decision against Courtney Lawes meant Sam Underhill’s late try that would have clinched a famous victory was disallowed.
“Everything gets checked now, just to make sure for confirmation, so you’ve got to be absolutely on it,” Youngs said.
“Sam’s try is a very good example where you are just a little bit off and you don’t get the rewards.
“It’s no different to how we’ve approached every game this tournament. You’ve got to make sure you are accurate and you are disciplined.”
England forwards coach Steve Borthwick revealed that England expect to have all 31 players available for selection on Thursday.
Wings Jack Nowell and Jonny May have made good progress in their recovery from hamstring injuries and are on course to be included in the matchday 23.
Jones’ ‘Kamikaze Kids’ Tom Curry and Underhill will continue in the back row after outclassing the famed ‘Pooper’ combination of David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the quarter-final victory over Australia.
Curry, at 21 England’s youngest player at the World Cup, was named man of the match following a colossal display of defensive ferocity and breakdown expertise and Youngs believes the Sale flanker is destined for the very top.
“Tom’s an unbelievably special player. He works incredibly hard. Nothing seems to faze him. He’s in this bubble and he’s just loving every moment of it,” Youngs said.
“Things like that are infectious. And Underhill, although he looks a lot older isn’t too old himself.
“Both those guys and the energy they bring – I’m just pleased and proud of them. As characters they’re good boys. They get a little bit of heat, but they’re top boys.
“Being an older member of the squad you see these young guys come in and you want them to be successful.
“Tom’s been incredible like that and I’m sure he’ll continue to grow and grow as a player. I’m sure he’ll go on to be one of the greatest back-rowers England have ever had.”