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Rugby World Cup: What is at stake for the Home Nations as they head into knockout round

  • Video report by ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott

His entire squad may tower over him but there’s no question Eddie Jones is England’s giant.

A man bursting with charisma who can be charming one moment and distinctly irascible the next.

Fearlessness is one of his more obvious traits, especially when it comes to decision making.

George Ford has been one of England’s stand-out players in Japan but nevertheless Jones has decided to shake things up and ditch him, now that they’ve entered knock-out territory.

This may be England’s biggest game in eight years and while others would be wary of tinkering, Jones will not have thought twice about moving the figures on his chessboard.

George Ford during England's Captains Run at Oita Stadium. Credit: PA

In Eddie’s World there is only Eddie’s way but then that’s exactly how it should be.

Ford has orchestrated some of England’s best moments during this tournament and the man who slips into the number 10 shirt on Saturday. Owen Farrell has not hit his best form as yet.

Shifting Farrell and discarding Ford changes the dynamic of the team and make no mistake, if England lose, it will be a decision that will come back to haunt Jones whether in reality it contributes to the loss or not.

Warren Gatland hasn’t caused any tremors with his selection but then Wales can’t boast the depth of talent England can.

Their formidable line-up picks itself and Gatland has reverted to the starters who beat Georgia and then Australia.

Owen Farrell has not hit his best form yet, Steve Scott writes. Credit: PA

Dan Biggar has been forced off with a head injury in two separate games so far but is back again to pull the strings against the French. Of all the remaining teams Wales have the shortest odds to book a semi-final spot.

Ireland conversely have the most difficult task against the perennial favourites New Zealand.

They are primed with their patient, powerful but not so easy-on-the-eye tactics while the All Blacks will attempt to be more expansive.

It will be the reigning champions' most testing match in Japan since their opener against South Africa; Ireland have conceded only two tries so far and are not unnerved by their opponent’s reputation having beaten them twice in the last three years.

Whatever the result it will be the end of the road for one of the coaches, both Joe Schmidt and Steve Hansen have said they’re packing it in when their tournament is done.

Likewise, the losing captain, Rory Best or Kieran Read, will be playing his last Test. Whichever way it goes there will be tears.