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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# Kamikaze Kids
'It makes our lives easier with those two!' - Curry and Underhill shine again
The England flankers were superb as Eddie Jones’ side downed the All Blacks.

SAM UNDERHILL IS still just 23-years-old.

Tom Curry is only 21.

The English flankers, dubbed the ‘Kamikaze Kids’ by England boss Eddie Jones, may be young but there is no doubting their impact at the very top level of rugby.

england-v-new-zealand-2019-rugby-world-cup-semi-final-international-stadium-yokohama Ashley Western Underhill latches onto Curry as he carries against the All Blacks. Ashley Western

Openside Underhill and blindside Curry were immense once again as England dethroned the All Blacks in their World Cup semi-final in Yokohama, playing starring roles as Jones’ side won 19-7 after a dominant display.

Underhill’s second-half hits on Kieran Read and Jordie Barrett will be central in the highlight reels after this special performance from England, with the Bath flanker demonstrating that rugby certainly has not gone soft.

Underhill’s tackle technique is so often flawless as he drives in low on ball-carriers, powering into the tackle, wrapping his arms tight, and immobilising their legs in the blink of an eye, all of it resulting in big hits that shape the momentum of games.

Sale Sharks flanker Tom doesn’t exactly shirk the physical exchanges either, although he was well short of Underhill’s tackle count of 14.  

Curry’s turnover penalty late in the first half was among his best moments, with Underhill following that steal up with some brilliant breakdown competition of his own minutes later, resulting in All Blacks blindside Scott Barrett being pinged for side entry.

George Ford fired over three points from that penalty to give the English a 10-0 advantage at half-time. 

rugby-world-cup-semi-final-england-v-new-zealand-yokohama-japan-26-october-2019 SIPA USA / PA Images Underhill was man of the match for England. SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

Both flankers contributed viciously to an excellent attacking ruck performance from Jones’ side too, as the clean attacking possession allowed Ford and Farrell to pull the strings with their classy kicking and passing games.

With New Zealand opting to select Scott Barrett at blindside flanker and drop Sam Cane, the English sensed an opportunity.

“When you pick tall lads like that [Barrett], there is an opportunity to work a bit lower,” said Curry post-match. “It came to fruition today. It was a big focus for us, especially getting attacking momentum going against New Zealand. It all starts at the breakdown.” 

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Curry was excellent in the ball-carrying stakes, earning 27 metres with his nine carries, which left him behind only the workhorse Vunipola brothers, Mako [16] and Billy [17].

It is worth pointing out that number eight Billy was superb again for England, carrying relentlessly. He is still only 26, so clearly there is plenty more to come from this back row.

It’s very strange to think of Underhill spending two seasons from 2015 until 2017 playing Pro14 rugby for the Ospreys but England’s ability to drag him away from Wales has paid dividends since Underhill made his Test debut in Argentina in 2017.

Curry won his first cap as an 18-year-old on that same trip to Argentina, having helped the England U20s to a Grand Slam earlier that year.

england-v-new-zealand-2019-rugby-world-cup-semi-final-international-stadium-yokohama Adam Davy Curry was impressive from the blindside. Adam Davy

His twin brother, Ben, is also a superb back row talent but Tom simply hasn’t slowed down in recent years. Putting on a substantial and noticeable extra slab of muscle over the pre-season has ensured he is having an even greater impact, while Curry has also worked hard on his lineout skills and passing.

Although the disregard they show for their bodies is sometimes alarming, the scarier prospect is that Underhill and Curry are young enough to play in another two World Cups at least.

First things first, they will be focused on helping Jones’ side to secure the William Webb Ellis trophy next weekend in Yokohama.

Right now, the Kamikaze Twins are a nightmare to play against and their team-mates are relieved to have Curry and Underhill on their side.  

“It makes our lives easier with those two!” said England prop Mako Vunipola. “They are still quite young, so they don’t understand how sore their bodies are – they take a battering and I am just glad they are on our side.

“For two young lads, we just ask them to be themselves and go out there and that gives us a lot of energy and keeps us older boys on our toes.”

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