Owen Farrell reflected on England’s crushing 57-15 victory over Ireland that saw records tumble at Twickenham by declaring the best is yet to come.
A stunning triumph in the third of four World Cup warm-up Tests signalled that Eddie Jones’ men are genuine title contenders when the global showpiece opens in Tokyo on September 20.
Awful Ireland leaked eight tries – their highest against England – and also collapsed to their heaviest defeat and conceded the largest number of points against their Six Nations rivals.
“It felt good. It’s a step in the right direction. The most pleasing thing is that our best stuff is still in front of us,” captain Farrell said.
“We feel like we are going in the right direction and are building towards something. This is another step along. It feels like there is a lot more in us.”
Lions centre Manu Tuilagi was named man of the match after a blockbusting display notable for a series of rampaging runs to which Ireland’s feeble defence had no answer.
“Manu’s in a good place, he’s got a smile on his face. He makes coffee for everyone every day except me so I’ve got to put my order in a bit earlier,” head coach Eddie Jones said.
“He’s getting fitter. He’s about 80 per cent fit at the moment – we’ve still got a little bit left to go with him and when he gets there he’ll be a handful.
“One of his greatest attributes is people like to play with him. It’s scary if you have to mark him.”
The only cloud over the performance was Mako Vunipola’s departure near the end with a recurrence of a hamstring injury.
Vunipola was making his return after four months on the sidelines but his appearance in the second half lasted just 17 minutes.
“Mako just got bit of a twinge and it was more of a precaution to take him off. Obviously he’ll be investigated fully,” Jones said.
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt admitted his side were “dishevelled” and challenged his players to shape up – fast.
“It was a litany of mistakes from us to be honest, we were dishevelled,” said Schmidt.
“We didn’t get our set-piece going, didn’t really scavenge as well as we would have liked. We fell off 34 tackles, 21 in the first half.
“It was tight in that first quarter, when we led 10-8 there was a bit of promise there. But it was very disappointing.
“We’ve got to be able to defend with 14 men. Just to go in the shed at half-time 22-10, it’s a big difference from 15-10. You’re two scores away then.
“We were underdone, a bit heavy-legged. It doesn’t have to be too much of a margin between two teams for one to be a bit sluggish and the other to be on the top of their game.
“I know we can get better than that, I know we have to. The players will take responsibility to do everything they can to turn it around next week and build from that because what really matters is in four weeks’ time (the World Cup opener against Scotland).”