England have the pace, power and creativity to win the World Cup, says Ben Cohen
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 14/08/19 3:31pm
England have the right blend of creativity, pace and power to win the 2019 World Cup, believes former international Ben Cohen.
Eddie Jones named his final 31-man squad for the tournament on Monday, as preparations continue for England's opening game against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22.
An experimental England side halted Wales' run of 14 consecutive Test victories with an impressive 33-19 victory at Twickenham on Sunday.
Cohen, who was part of England's World Cup-winning side in 2003, believes Jones' side are peaking at the right time and have what it takes to win in Japan.
"My favourites for this World Cup are England," Cohen told Sky Sports News.
"Obviously, New Zealand are up there with South Africa and Australia. [Those four] for me are the big contenders for the World Cup.
"The fact that now South Africa and Australia are starting to play some fantastic rugby - this is going to be a very good World Cup."
After a difficult 2018 campaign, which saw them finish fifth in the Six Nations, England have been much improved in 2019.
Although defeat in Cardiff cost them the Six Nations title, England were by far the most clinical team in the tournament, scoring 24 tries. Scotland and Ireland both scored 14, while Wales and France managed 12 and Italy got 10.
Cohen believes England's attacking prowess could prove decisive in Japan but would like to see fly-half Owen Farrell add another weapon to his arsenal.
"What England are very good at is scoring tries and at being creative," Cohen said. "They have got pace to burn.
"They have got strength in the middle, they have a playmaker in Farrell and they have the ammunition and power up front with Billy Vunipola and his ball-carrying from No 8. They have an incredible opportunity to be able to open teams with pace and power.
"My only thought about what could hamstring England - and I talk about this from experience because Jonny Wilkinson was very good at it in 2003 - is keeping the scoreboard ticking over.
"At the moment, England score tries and they kick penalties. They never drop a goal when you are not expecting it. And what that does is it keeps the opposition guessing and it keeps their defence honest.
"They know that 30 metres out, they are either going to score a try, drop a goal or kick a penalty. That is what makes you dangerous and that is where we killed teams in 2003."
Cohen is England's joint-second all-time leading try-scorer - alongside Will Greenwood - with 31.
Jonny May is seven behind him with 24 tries, and Cohen is a big fan of the Leicester star, who is likely to occupy his former position on England's left wing.
"I think Jonny May has proven himself. When he first started playing for England, I did not think he could cut it. He was never really running forward, always across," Cohen said.
"But when you are in the headlights sometimes it takes a little bit of time to adjust yourself and get used to that light.
"He has certainly done that. He is a phenomenal player and he is somebody I would have in my team every day of the week."
Jones has a wealth of talented back-three options at his disposal, where May, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Ruaridh McConnochie, Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson will all be competing for three starting places.
Cohen would like to see May picked alongside British and Irish Lions Daly and Watson, with Bath powerhouse Cokanasiga providing impact off the bench.
"My ideal back three would be May, [Anthony] Watson on the wing and [Elliot] Daly at full-back. I like the way they link and the way they spot space," Cohen said.
"And they were confident in the air against a good Welsh team at the weekend.
"That would be a team to reckon with and I think they would score tries, which they have shown before."
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