Anthony Watson admits he will never recover from the heartbreak of England’s World Cup final defeat but intends to use the disappointment to fuel his career.
Watson was outstanding throughout the tournament in Japan but was part of the starting XV overrun 32-12 by South Africa just a week after New Zealand had been dismantled in the semi-finals.
As a result of their success at the World Cup, England have been installed as favourites for the Guinness Six Nations ahead of their opener against France in Paris on Sunday.
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For Watson it offers the first opportunity to begin the healing process.
“I don’t think personally I’ll ever get over the final until hopefully, fingers crossed, I get another crack at it,” the 25-year-old said.
“But what I can do is try and take everything I can from that final in terms of how it can make me a better player. I’m sure the group feels the same.
“We’ve got a Six Nations to compete in and we want to put our best foot forward in that.
“If we worry too much about what happened and lie around thinking about that, we’re going to get lost.
“You have to use what happened at the World Cup as a positive. I don’t know what other option there is.
“Obviously there’s disappointment but you can’t let that get to you. What’s it going to do apart from make you play worse?
“It doesn’t make sense to me. I want to take what I can from it and move forward.”
Watson will start the Stade de France showdown on the wing or at full-back, where he could replace Elliot Daly in a possible reshuffle of the back three.
Eddie Jones names his first team of the post-Japan 2019 era on Friday with George Ford expected to be retained at fly-half where he will act as the general of his head coach’s challenge to play with “brutal physicality”.
Ford’s take on Jones’ theme is that it can be applied to aspects of the game beyond confrontation.
“You can be brutal and smart at the same time. Brutality doesn’t always mean trying to knock the wall down trying to run over the man straight in front of you,” the Leicester playmaker said.
“Defensively it’s a bit more like ‘right, let’s go get ’em and whack ’em’. But from an attack point of view, you look for the space and be brutal with that and in your decision making to kick at the right time.
“The brutal stuff is not always route one, direct, over the top of them. It’s about being smart as well.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) January 29, 2020
“The brutal intensity of making sure we are there in terms of the physicality and being smart and controlled.
“Teams are fired up at the start of games, those first 15-20 minutes and they probably want you to run straight into them so they can smash you and get themselves into the game.”
Luke Cowan-Dickie could miss the trip to the French capital after returning home from the squad’s Portugal training base for family reasons.
Cowan-Dickie, Jones’ second choice hooker behind Jamie George, departed the Algarve on Tuesday night.
If he is unable to rejoin England in time for Friday’s team announcement, Bath front row Tom Dunn will be given the chance to make his debut off the bench in Paris with Jack Singleton on standby to be called up as cover.