When England play South Africa on Saturday afternoon, the decisive phase of preparation for the World Cup should begin. So much for the best plans.
Instead of being solid and coherent in the Far East next autumn and building a glorious destiny, England is wrapped in tape, plasters and bandages, patched and vulnerable.
Eddie Jones achieves a crucial point in his tenure as head coach. Both arms are tied on the back. No other leading country enters the international international campaign in November.
Eddie Jones achieves a crucial point as head coach, but has to deal with an injury crisis
It does not matter that England gets on well with the best foot, just about every foot has to do it.
Grim medical bulletins have brutally undermined English plans for their season opener, but this is not just accidental damage. Form debates were a feature of Saturday's build-up and setbacks.
Outstanding actors in the home game were overlooked. The fans of Don Armand and Dave Attwood, Matt Kvesic and Danny Cipriani were omitted by Jones, although they are making waves for their clubs. Ben Morgan and Michael Rhodes are others in the in-form category who made it into the first training squad but missed the cut to face the Boks.
Nevertheless, Jones has omitted native stars like Danny Cipriani for the South Africa Test
Some of the head coach's decisions have a split opinion, but the stark truth is that if England had his full strength somewhere, they would be the favorites to defeat these southern invaders. Instead, with a raw home pack that prepares for a monumental challenge, this device has trouble with it.
If the strikers actually decide who wins – and how many backs – the most likely result is a close victory for Rassie Erasmus. England needs the ball when it comes to unleashing a newly arranged line, but given the chronic lack of firepower in the front and back rows, the broad men could live on leftovers.
A new English era begins with crutches. Veterans like Mike Brown, James Haskell, and Dan Cole have either settled forever or are at the edge of the action, fearing the worst. Rookies take control. An overhaul, which would ideally have taken place a year ago, is in full swing, but the injury crisis means that the scale and urgency of the crisis will be enforced.
Many changes do not help finding results and momentum. After losing five consecutive tests before taking any comfort from these opponents in Cape Town, despite the difficult circumstances under which they find themselves, England must tackle the bottom line. Since New Zealand is next in seven days, there is a pressure to win.
The doomsday scenario would be two defeats in the first two games, which would lead to an inevitable pressure increase on Jones and his regime. The RFU's decision to approve John Mitchell's appointment as England's new defense coach indicates that they are supporting Jones for the World Cup, Hell or the Flood. Wringing or panic.
This is a meaningful game that will serve to review the new lineup. Mitchell was not the popular choice to replace Paul Gustard, so the defense of the former All Black head coach is scrutinized. Scott Wisemantel had a positive impact as an attack guru in South Africa, but the areas of the collective class need to be more sustainable.
Maro Itoje relaxed during the English captain on Friday with a juggling point
The South African team also trained in Twickenham before the friendly on Saturday
It's been 1,596 days since the sales wing Chris Ashton last played for England.
He will come off the bench for his 40th cap.
His last test match took place in June 2014 against the All Blacks in Hamilton.
The new co-captain arrangement will also be in the limelight. Time will tell if it's a real World Cup plan or Dylan Hartley before the hooker thanks for his great service and is pushed aside. Will Carling will be working with the squad next week to help develop leadership and identity, but these qualities will be essential on Saturday.
A waste on the wall is imminent. These Springboks target English set staples, expecting to outdo them with a dangerous driving game. Titans in the South African pack like Eben Etzebeth and Malcolm Marx will believe that the home strikers can not live with their mighty power and aggression.
The Erasmus team will miss out on selling Scrum-half Faf de Klerk and Wasps completely behind Willie le Roux, who were both mainstays of the June series but are suspended on Saturday as this test falls outside the official window. In the absence of Le Roux, the inexperienced Bok players could be attacked by three of England's multiple kickers – Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell, Henry Slade and Elliot Daly.
English star Owen Farrell scored three goals against the inexperienced Bok on Saturday
However, visitors have shown that they can win on the back foot if necessary. They defeated New Zealand in Wellington, even though they had little property and land to work. When the odds came, they took her. Their renewal under Erasmus has been a huge success, especially abroad, but if they win in Twickenham, they will be considered as aspirants at next year's World Cup.
For England, who had been deprived of the brothers Vunipola and so many others, victory would count double. It would be a remarkable achievement in the difficult circumstances. On the other hand, a defeat would make them slip towards the sombre prospect of losing to the other at home.
It's about a lot. Her autumn is on the cutting edge. Already.