England defence coach Kevin Sinfield laid into the team after defeat to Fiji in late August, says Freddie Steward, with that blast inspiring Steve Borthwick’s men in victory over Argentina in World Cup opener; England triumph 27-10 despite early red card for Tom Curry
Last Updated: 11/09/23 11:17pm
Freddie Steward says England’s heroic victory over Argentina in their World Cup opener was inspired by a verbal “rocket” from defence coach Kevin Sinfield after the recent humbling defeat to Fiji.
Steve Borthwick’s men suffered a first-ever loss to Fiji in late August, going down 30-22 in what was arguably the side’s lowest ebb, but they rebounded a fortnight later to defeat Argentina 27-10 despite playing virtually the whole game with 14 men following Tom Curry’s early red card.
Curry faces a disciplinary hearing in Paris on Tuesday, with the flanker expected to learn the length of his ban for a challenge that led to a clash of heads with Pumas back Juan Cruz Mallia.
Full-back Steward said: “We got a bit of a rocket after that [Fiji] game.
‘Sinfield a bloke you don’t want to let down’
“There were no complaints about that, it needed to happen. We had a very thorough review, which we needed, and we reaped the benefits against Argentina. It was necessary for that to happen.
“That’s what makes Kev such a good defence coach – he’s so inspiring. He motivates us so much and he’s the sort of bloke you don’t want to let down. That’s testament to him as a bloke. When you go out there, part of it is you do it for him.
“You don’t want to see a guy like that, who puts his heart and soul into us in his work with his defence, feel let down.
“Kev is big on covering each other’s backs. That’s his big thing. He wants a defensive unit that are going to work incredibly hard for each other and, when it goes wrong, cover up for each other.
“Inevitably, you can be as good a defender as you want as a full-back but there are going to be times where it doesn’t go to plan and that is where you get tested. That’s his main ethos.”
Sinfield: Fans would have loved our fight and spirit
Sinfield says England must build on a resolute display ahead of their second World Cup fixture against Japan in Nice on Sunday.
“It is just a start. We saw lots of what we had seen in training against Argentina, which is pleasing, but I still feel there is so much in this team – so much improvement, so much growth,” Sinfield said.
“To get the win, given the noise that has been around us and the way the group have really circled the wagons – metaphorically that is – is really pleasing.
“We saw a fight, a spirit and attitude that the people at home supporting us and in the ground would have loved to have seen, and for us as coaches that is particularly pleasing, (but) we know we need to be better.
“Part of our challenge as coaches and part of the challenge of the playing group is to ensure this is not an anomaly, it is the start.”