Eddie Jones admitted England needed “Fergie time” to ensure their World Cup title quest began with a bonus-point victory over Tonga.
It took until the 77th minute to deliver the fourth try through Luke Cowan-Dickie that sealed a 35-3 win at the Sapporo Dome, but a laboured performance left plenty of areas for improvement.
Sir Alex Ferguson visited the squad in Bristol during the summer and Jones referred to the former Manchester United manager’s ability to inspire late goals from his players to illustrate England’s ability to claim the prize they sought.
“During the lead-up to the World Cup we had a number of coaches and specialists in. One person we were lucky enough to have in was Sir Alex Ferguson,” Jones said.
“One of the things his teams were renowned for was... what do they call it? Fergie time. Fergie time!
“And the message was be patient and that’s what I enjoyed about our team - there was no sign of panic and they kept on playing good rugby and the try came. It might have been easier if it had come a little bit earlier, but it came and that’s a good sign.”
Maro Itoje revealed that Ferguson explained the philosophy behind ‘Fergie time’ to England’s players.
“It was very cool. Sometimes when you hear of and see figures when you are growing up, they almost don’t feel real,” Itoje said.
“Eddie didn’t tell us when he was coming in. So he walked into the room and everyone almost swallowed some spit. It was, ‘It’s actually him’.
“Just being able to meet him and talk to him – the stories we heard were amazing. I think we took a lot out of it.”