Underhill urges England to put pain of World Cup final defeat behind them

Sam Underhill insists England must find peace by unpacking the pain caused by their World Cup final defeat.

Eddie Jones’ squad for the Guinness Six Nations have conducted a post-Japan 2019 debrief at their training camp in Portugal guided by Andrea Furst, the team psychologist.

Outstanding wins against Australia and New Zealand propelled them into the Yokohama final where they were routed 32-12 by South Africa, their disappointment compounded by knowing they had barely a fired a shot.

England open their Six Nations title pursuit against France in Paris on February 2 and flanker Underhill believes it is important to come to terms with the events of November 2.

“The aim ultimately is to learn from the World Cup and be at peace with it. There has got to be an end point to that surely,” the Bath openside said.

“The overriding message from the review was that it was a brilliant experience. It was overwhelmingly positive for everyone that was involved.

“There will be a sense of disappointment and regret around the final, but equally what made it easier was that we felt we had done everything we could.

“Hindsight is a brilliant thing and you can look back and say maybe there was other stuff you could have done but reflecting on it, we did everything we could at the time.

“The reflection is an ongoing thing. We’re working with Andrea, who is our psych, to unpack anything that might be there.

“Ultimately the aim is be better and make sure it’s not an issue moving forward. We will unpack stuff if it is there to unpack but equally we are not going to dig if there is nothing to dig for.

“I also want to take away the positives. It was the best rugby experience of my life with the best group of players I could think of to have it with. I’m not going to damp down that experience because it was phenomenal.”

England v Italy – Guinness Six Nations – Twickenham Stadium
England v Italy – Guinness Six Nations – Twickenham Stadium

One member of the World Cup squad not available for the trip to Paris is Joe Launchbury, who has been ruled out by a knee problem.

Launchbury sustained the injury in the 27-0 Challenge Cup defeat by Bordeaux-Begles a week ago and will sit out the trip to Paris on February 2.

The 28-year-old is receiving treatment at the squad’s Algarve training base and it is hoped he will recover in time for the Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland in round two.

Launchbury was a member of Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad last autumn but made only one appearance, against the USA.

Even if fit, the 62-cap second row was unlikely to be involved in the matchday 23 against France.

France will be Simon Amor’s first match as England’s new attack coach following seven years as Twickenham’s sevens supremo, a reign that includes masterminding Team GB’s silver medal at the 2016 Olympics.

Amor, whose only XV tracksuit experience was with London Scottish, takes over from Scott Wisemantel having overseen sessions in the build-up to the World Cup.

“As someone who has been doing sevens for the last seven years, watching how England have evolved was great,” Amor said.

“Where can I add value to the team? Sevens is all about space and time. Of course the fundamentals are important, but also knowing that if you get things wrong in sevens you concede tries.

“So how do you put people under pressure and challenge them to grow in that way? That’s where I feel we can make some great progress.

“Working in sevens gives you a different perspective and adds to the blend of the coaching team, which is really important in any coaching team.”