KOBE, Japan (Reuters) - Even the most optimistic U.S. rugby fan would struggle to sound upbeat about their chances of beating England at the World Cup on Thursday but Eagles coach Gary Gold says that being severe underdogs will allow his team to perform without pressure.
Cape Town native Gold, who took the helm at USA rugby in 2018, is under no illusions about the size of the task facing his team in Kobe and said he hoped his players would emerge from the game with credibility.
While Eddie Jones has made 10 changes to the side that beat Tonga in their Pool C opener, Gold said it made no difference to him who the England coach selected. He was simply replacing one quality player with another.
“It didn’t really bother me who they did and didn’t pick because it’s coming in waves,” he told a media conference on Wednesday.
“If it wasn’t the team that played against Tonga, which was monstrously physical and powerful, then it’s the team that they’ve picked at the moment, which is going to be very, very fast.
“I genuinely don’t think there are any glaring weaknesses in this England team.”
That is not to say Gold harbours no hope of a stunning upset similar to the defeat Japan inflicted on South Africa four years ago. England will have to cope with the pressure of being expected to win, and win well.
“We pretty much don’t have anything to lose .. the expectations are quite low, nobody gives us a chance, and conversely that puts pressure on a team like England,” he said.
“When you are playing a team that on paper is supposed to be weaker than you it will go through their minds — What if?”
Things do not get much easier for the United States after they play England, with three-times runners-up France next up followed by 2015 semi-finalists Argentina before they round out their group against Tonga.
Gold was excited by the challenge.
“For as long as I can remember the tier-two teams have been moaning and crying for more opportunities to play tier-one teams, so when we’re drawn in a pool like this we see it as an exciting opportunity,” he added.
“We don’t see it necessarily as a daunting task. It’s going to be a very difficult task but it’s one we’ve been preparing for a very long time.
“If we stick to what we have been planning to do and we work really hard for 100 percent of the time then you never know, the scoreboard in one of those games might be in our favour.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty