All Blacks great Jonah Lomu insists the strain of Rugby World Cup expectation will weigh more heavily on the shoulders of England’s players than those of defending champions New Zealand.
England open the tournament when they play Fiji at Twickenham on Friday, while a treacherous pathway to the knockout phase awaits with Australia and Wales also in Pool A, which has been billed as the Group of Death.
New Zealand, meanwhile, are bidding to become the first side to retain the Webb Ellis Cup, something which Lomu – the leading try-scorer in World Cup history – believes is a more manageable burden.
“There is going to be a lot of pressure on New Zealand but the majority of it is on England,” said Lomu. “It’s their home tournament and they are playing in front of their own fans.”
Lomu, who infamous demolished England in the semi-final of the World Cup in 1995, believes Stuart Lancaster’s modern day side needs to relish the opportunity to land early blows against stellar opponents such as Australia and Wales.
“You come to the World Cup to play against the best of the best,” he added. “England need to play their game. If they can control their emotions and play to their ability, they should be there or thereabouts in terms of winning the pool.”