England ‘not avenging anything’ in Rugby World Cup rematch against South Africa
Eddie Jones may have renovated his England squad for the 2021 Autumn Nations Series, but there are plenty still present who were also there for the 2019 Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa.
The Red Rose rampaged past New Zealand in the semis to enter the decider as favourites, which in turn only made their 32-12 loss to the Springboks that much more difficult a pill to swallow.
Tom Curry is among the survivors from that examination in Yokohama—one of only three England forwards who played the full 80 minutes—and retains a prominent place in Jones' plans.
That's despite the fact he was only 21 when his World Cup dream was extinguished, the kind of crushing blow that would leave most athletes that age rabid to fulfil a vendetta.
And yet Curry—now 23—has insisted vengeance will play no part in his performance against South Africa at Twickenham come Saturday afternoon.
"I’ve not watched it [the 2019 final] back," he said. "I don’t think you need to for emotions either.
"This is one of the biggest games of the season. If that doesn’t get you up for it, I don’t know what will. It’s really exciting to be part of this week.
"In terms of looking back at previous games and how they are going to play, you can get a pretty good idea. But for us in terms of 'revenge' — we’ve got a new team and they have a new team. It’s not about avenging anything, it’s about winning."
It's little wonder the back-row talisman has reached 35 England caps in such a short space of time—or 38 total Test caps if one includes his three outings for the British and Irish Lions this past summer.
That series provided numerous England stars with extra insight on the reigning world champions, even if Warren Gatland 's men did give up a lead to lose 2-1 on their travels.
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Revenge may not be the main drive—or a motivator of any kind, if Curry's cool demeanour is to be believed—but that doesn't mean he hasn't gleaned knowledge in how not to tackle the Springboks.
"Probably don’t play them at their own game — a lot of kicks and slowing the game down," he replied when asked what lessons he's taken from the more recent defeats against this foe.
"You probably shoot yourselves in the foot if you get in that cycle with them, because that’s what they want, isn’t it?"
Kyle Sinckler was also present on that tour and recently echoed Curry's sentiment regarding revenge, though his reasons are different.
The tighthead prop was forced off just two minutes into the final two years ago due to a head injury, which means he can't actually remember any of the fixture.
Nonetheless, it's evidence of a certain maturity among Jones' England squad, even if a third or so of those in the group are aged 23 and under.
Curry stands out in that he's amassed more caps than the rest of that contingent combined, further proof to the rare character of one whose accustomed to playing beyond his years.
The task of beating coach Jacques Nienaber's side will be that much tougher without captain Owen Farrell and hooker Jamie George, who have each been ruled out due to injuries.
As one of the vice-captains elected behind stand-in skipper Courtney Lawes, the Sale Sharks talisman will be expected to raise his typically high standards once more for England's final Test of the autumn.
An absence of emotional investment in the opponent is a fine place to start as Curry grows further into a leadership role for which he's long seemed destined.
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