England and Eddie Jones all set for Rugby World Cup ride
England open World Cup campaign against Tonga on Sunday
By Gail Davis in Japan
Last Updated: 20/09/19 7:43pm
Strap yourselves in, this World Cup rollercoaster is about to start, writes Sky Sports News' Gail Davis.
That's Eddie Jones' message to his players on the eve of the tournament. This will be Jones' fourth World Cup so he understands the highs, the lows, the moments when you are screaming to get off but also the elation that comes with getting it right. After almost four years in the planning, he feels his side are well equipped to handle it.
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The first of those challenges is the big physical emotionally-driven one in the shape of Tonga. Jones has picked the strongest squad available. Two changes from the starters that beat Ireland by a record scoreline in their final Twickenham outing.
It means the midfield combination of George Ford, Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi get their second start after their impressive first outing against Ireland and outside them, England's electric backs will relish the carpet-like surface on the retractable Sapporo Dome pitch.
In the back row Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola and Sam Underhill are reunited too. Jones made the point that referees are allowing teams to play a bit more at the breakdown and this is the personnel he believes can come up with quick ball.
Twenty years ago, Vunipola watched his dad play for Tonga (the country of his birth) at the World Cup, he prides himself on playing with emotion and on Sunday, expects a few tears during the anthem. After that it could be barnstorming Billy - he is desperate to make a mark at this World Cup after 2015 ended early with injury.
Courtney Lawes and the physicality he brings gives him the nod over George Kruis. This is his sort of Test match and you could see from the huge smile across his face how much he's looking forward to getting stuck in.
The same can be said of all the players especially after training at the Sapporo Dome for the first time, it is an incredible backdrop for their opener. Jones said his squad could not believe how impressive it was - Jonny May was desperate to get out there and test the surface. He has been fascinated by how they store the pitch outside then move it in, turn it around and give it five days to acclimatise.
It served England's footballers well in 2002 World Cup, David Beckham with the winning penalty against Argentina. For those of the squad that do not remember the original tactics boards complete with the team formations, match shirts and the match ball serve as a reminder as you wander through to the dressing rooms.
There's one more training session for England and the final prep will involve a trip back to the Sapporo Dome for the coaches and non-matchday players to watch Fiji take on Australia. Jones wants his squad, who for many this is their first World Cup, to feel the atmosphere, take in the excitement and expectation and more importantly experience the noise of the Dome. We will see for ourselves on Sunday but it is supposed to be one of the noisiest sporting arenas in the world.
I hope you are all ready to take your seats the ride is about to begin...