England underdone for quarterfinal? Come and watch training

Courtney Lawes looks to be in fine form as he sprints during an England training session. David Rogers/Getty Images

BEPPU, Japan -- England lock Courtney Lawes has a simple message for anyone who thinks his side might be underdone ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal with Australia: Come and watch training.

The two sides will meet on Saturday in Oita in what will be their third quarterfinal showdown and seventh overall battle in the tournament's history, while coaches Michael Cheika and Eddie Jones are also going head-to-head for a seventh time.

Jones of course leads that battle 6-0, a record Cheika earlier this week claimed had no reference for Saturday, while the storyline for England's camp has been a supposed lack of genuine match preparation following the cancellation of their final pool game against France due to Typhoon Hagibis.

But Lawes moved to shut that down on Wednesday, issuing an emphatic response to those who feel his side might be underdone after comfortable wins over Tonga and the United States, and a Test against Argentina that was ruined by Tomas Lavanini's red card after 18 minutes.

"We trained pretty hard on Saturday, so we'll probably be alright," Lawes said about last Saturday's cancellation.

When it was suggested to him that training wasn't the same as playing, Lawes added: "Come and watch training then," hinting England had been slugging it out as he shared a chuckle with teammate Anthony Watson.

The towering lock then moved to clarify his thoughts.

"Na, na, I know what you're saying, 100 percent. I think we go through plenty of rugby with our clubs and then we have to come together and play a Test match straight away. And plenty of times we come away with a win after many weeks without playing international rugby, so I think we'll be good.

"No matter what team we play we always give it 120 percent, I think we've had some tough games and we've dealt with a lot of different adversity," Lawes said. "We've had two weeks' prep which has been good for us in that regard and I think that gives us a good chance going into this game."

Looking at England's two most recent performances after an extended break, first in the Six Nations and then in the first of their warm-ups for the World Cup, Lawes is only half right.

England were in ominous form when they destroyed Ireland in their Six Nations opener at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin but in the first of two hit-outs prior to leaving for Japan, they were beaten 13-6 by Wales in Cardiff.

The story is largely similar when comparing their two fortnight breaks during the Six Nations; England lost to Wales in the tournament's third round after two weeks' break before they then obliterated Italy 57-14 a fortnight later.

Lawes claims about his side's current state of preparedness were certainly backed up assistant coach Steve Borthwick, the former Test lock however taking a different view of his side's comfortable victory over Argentina.

"Our preparations have been really good and we did everything we needed to do in the first two games and the Argentina game -- when a team loses a man -- it galvanises them and makes things tougher," Borthwick said.

"It was a great challenge of us to adapt and since then we have had 10 days of great training and preparation and the players look good. We are in a good place physically and excited for the game."

Saturday's match will prove extra special for England winger Jonny May who will bring up his 50th Test cap. As for his take on the cancellation or England's match with France, May said the art was finding the positive in any situation.

"You do the best you can with the cards you're dealt. If the game had been played, I'd say brilliant we've had a game, we've worked a few more things out," May said. "We're game ready, we've had that extra game under our belts, so we're match fit.

"But that didn't happen so now what I'm saying is brilliant, we didn't have to play, we didn't pick up any injuries. We've had two weeks' prep, focusing, getting a head start on this week.

"It was bit of a mental break. So whatever happens, we turn it into a positive for us."

Both England and Australia will name their teams on Thursday with most speculation residing on the fitness of England No. 8 Billy Vunipola and just what the Wallabies decide to do with their halves and back-row combinations.