KYRAN Bracken claims Eddie Jones made a crucial World Cup mistake by leaning too heavily on Ben Youngs in Japan and not spreading the scrum-half load.
The 2003 World Cup member insists the Aussie should have taken three No9s to the Far East and was always taking a risk believing Leicester star Youngs could inspire the team to World Cup glory.
Bracken also feels the decision not to take a heavier, more powerful prop in Exeter Chiefs’ Harry Williams to the Far East was another big selection mistake.
Youngs started every game apart from one during the tournament but he failed to spark when it mattered in the defeat by the Springboks.
And former Saracens scrum-half Bracken insisted: “Eddie made the mistake of giving Youngs so much time. There were great scrum-halves out there, like Ben Spencer, and Dan Robson. It was unfortunate that Willi Heinz got injured but Eddie should have taken three No.9s with him to Japan.
“He also made a mistake in not taking Harry Williams who is a stronger prop and better ball carrier. England’s scrum was made to look really, really weak. Losing Kyle Sinckler was a blow but it meant Dan Cole, who is a bit old now and has not been a starter, had to play virtually the whole game instead of his usual 15 minutes or so.
“South Africa did what Rassie Erasmus said they would – dismantle England’s front row. The Springboks had six forwards on the bench and Erasmus brought on a new fresh front row after 43 minutes.”
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Unsure of recommendations for remedying England’s scrum, Bracken added that Eddie Jones weren’t afforded any room for error.
Bracken added: “Eddie Jones may say he doesn’t know why England lost but the game is based on foundations. Your set piece is so important. The scrum didn’t work and they lost some line-outs. They lost the aerial battles, there were a few knocks-ons and they looked nervous in the first ten minutes. They couldn’t counter South Africa’s physicality which was brutal.
“You have to be able to move mentally on from one game to the next, and not let it affect your next performance whether you win or lose. For me, England didn’t seem to get that New Zealand win out of their heads for the final.
“I remember in 2003 when we smashed France in the semi-final, the first thing Martin Johnson said was “get that out of your heads right now it is not going to be like that in the final!”
“England should be proud of what they achieved but it was an opportunity missed.”
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