England will be eager to put all the sideshows behind them and produce an impressive performance against Uruguay in Manchester on Saturday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
This England squad made headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past week, as they became the first World Cup host nation to crash out of the tournament in the pool stage, following back-to-back defeats to Wales and Australia at Twickenham.
The controversies ranged from training ground bust-ups, to rifts within the team over the selection and non-selection of certain individuals, to coaches allegedly confronting match officials over on-field calls they deemed unfair.
It all escalated rather quickly since the final whistle in London last Saturday. And amidst it all, they still have one pool fixture to prepare for.
Coach Stuart Lancaster has made eight changes to the starting lineup, with seven of those incoming players set for their first start at the tournament. While it may not be under ideal circumstances, these youngsters can lay down an early marker for next year's Six Nations.
George Ford has been named at flyhalf, with an all-out attacking backline – Owen Farrell, Henry Slade, Alex Goode and Jack Nowell – on his outside. If Uruguay can't disrupt and unsettle Ford, he'll dictate the tempo of this game.
The last time these sides met at the 2003 World Cup, England posted 111 points while conceding only 13.
Given that England are trying to save face, restore national pride and win back supporter respect, Uruguay may well be on a hiding to nothing.
FORD'S STATS THAT MATTER
16 – Test caps
3 – World Cup appearances
8 – World Cup points
11 – Runs
23 – Kicks from hand
42 – Passes
HEAD TO HEAD
England 1, Uruguay 0
England – 15 Alex Goode, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 James Haskell, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 David Wilson, 19 George Kruis, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Jonathan Joseph, 23 Mike Brown.
Uruguay – 15 Gaston Mieres, 14 Santiago Gibernau, 13 Joaquin Prada, 12 Andres Vilaseca, 11 Rodrigo Silva, 10 Felipe Berchesi, 9 Agustín Ormaechea, 8 Alejandro Nieto, 7 Matias Beer, 6 Juan Manuel Gaminara, 5 Jorge Zerbino, 4 Santiago Vilaseca (c), 3 Mario Sagario, 2 Carlos Arboleya, 1 Mateo Sanguinetti.
Subs: 16 Nicolas Klappenbach, 17 Oscar Duran, 18 Alejo Corral, 19 Mathias Palomeque, 20 Diego Magnol 21 Agustín Alonso, 22 Alejo Durán, 23 Manuel Blengio.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Fererico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images