Dallaglio ready to fire
Lawrence Dallaglio will use his World Cup debut at Twickenham today against Pool B rivals Italy to work out some of his anger after his summer of frustration.
England are expected to launch their campaign with a resounding victory, setting them up for tomorrow week's vital clash against New Zealand.
But the Italians deserve England's total respect, says Dallaglio, who knows England's opponents have nothing to lose and will be no pushovers _ as they showed against England in last November's World Cup qualifier.
England struggled before recording an unimpressive 23-15 victory at Huddersfield, one of their worst performances since Clive Woodward took over as coach two years ago.
Dallaglio, who could have played for Italy courtesy of his Italian-born father, believes England must be on top of their game.
``It would be disrespectful to Italy if we started thinking about the All Blacks at this stage,'' he said.
``Italy have emerged as a fully fledged international side and it would not be right to think about New Zealand before we have played this match.``
Dallaglio goes into the World Cup in magnificent form, having starred throughout England's World Cup warm-up programme.
His return to the fold after a summer of personal discontent has given England an extra forward edge and the route to success will depend significantly on his performances throughout World Cup 99.
Dallaglio was fined #15,000 by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel after he admitted a disrepute charge arising from newspaper drug-taking allegations.
And the Wasps forward admits that he is still ``working out some of the anger'' from that lowest point in his England career.
He relinquished the England captaincy, which was inherited by Martin Johnson for the Australian tour this summer and subsequent World Cup campaign, but it is as if a weight has been lifted off his broad shoulders.
``Playing at number eight I still have a major influence over decision making and I am also playing with some freedom,'' he said.
``The World Cup is the big tournament for any rugby player, and while it was disappointing for me to miss out on selection four years ago, the tournament has now come around again and I am very much looking forward to it.''
England are expected to go some distance in the 20-team tournament, although once again they face massive opposition in the shape of southern hemisphere super powers New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
They have enjoyed more than four months of intensive preparations and Woodward knows that there can be no excuses if England get it wrong.
Italy and Tonga, realistically, should pose them few problems, but it is the All Blacks result that will decide their quarter-final fate _ defeat and it's probably a last-eight tie with South Africa in Paris.
``The New Zealand match is a massive game in the tournament. They come here as favourites, but we are the host nation for that game so it is quite simply huge,'' said Dallaglio.
There is no doubt that England possess the forward power to take on and dominate most opponents, but they are going to require far more than just brute force to compete for rugby's world title.
The absence of scrum-half Kyran Bracken is a major loss and much will depend on how fly-half Jonny Wilkinson can manage his backs as England look for the cutting edge that will compliment a predictably powerful forward effort.
Woodward knows that the time for talking is now over. It is time for action and England must get off to a flyer against Italy this evening.