Sackey happy with ‘underdog’ status

England and London Wasps wing Paul Sackey is confident that the defending champion’s “underdog” status will work in their favour at the Rugby World Cup.

Coach Brian Ashton takes his team to France knowing that no team has successfully defended their title since the tournament began in 1987.

A lack of tries in two successive defeats to Les Bleus in the warm-up campaign may have worried some of the Twickenham faithful.

But as the 30-man squad prepare to head to Versailles on Monday, Wasps winger Sackey has given an indication of the confidence that is still running strong.

“I do believe we are underdogs, but that’s a good thing for England. You can never write off an underdog and I think it’s taken a little bit of the pressure off us,” Sackey told skysports.com.

“The likes of New Zealand have got a lot pressure on them as the favourites, so that could prove their downfall.

“We’re the holders so people are going to have to try and take it off us.

“We’re not going out there thinking we’re just going to do our best. We all want to go out there and prove a point to the rest of the world.”

The 27-year-old Wasps star also revealed World Cup winners like legendary union and league winger Jason Robinson have provided a source of inspiration.

“Once you’ve got a couple of World Cup winners in your team it starts to rub off on people, so it’s good for the team,” said Sackey.

“Me and Jason get on really well and he’s obviously a brilliant player. He’s excelled in both codes, so just being around him and learning what he does has really helped me and we’ve become good friends.

“The backs haven’t shown our true potential yet, but we’ve got so much talent it’s just a matter of time.

“Once we get the balance between the forwards and the backs right we’ll be on fire.”

The Heineken Cup winner has been recovering from a knee operation since the end of last season, and now has his sights set on a starting role alongside Robinson in France.

“Now my injury’s starting to clear up, I’m feeling a little bit fresher again, so I just can’t wait to get out to France,” he added.

“All I can do is train well, but I honestly don’t know what the coaches are thinking at the moment.

“My goals are to do well for England and win the World Cup, and obviously secure a spot in the first XV for the next couple of years.”

England have been drawn in Pool A in France and begin the defence of the Webb Ellis trophy against USA on September 8.

 

365 Digital

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