- Lancaster’s players get ready for some hard graft
- Coffee trips, bike rides and some UFC watching out in Denver
England’s 45-man squad flew out to Denver this weekend ahead of the next phase of their exacting preparation schedule for the Rugby World Cup, which begins in earnest on 18 September with the tournament-opening encounter against Fiji at Twickenham.
Stuart Lancaster’s charges have already been together for three weeks at Pennyhill Park, undergoing an arduous fitness programme.
Over the next fortnight across the Atlantic Ocean, rugby-based drills are incorporated alongside more tough work at altitude.
Here is a selection of tweets and Instagram posts from the players as they looked forward to the trip, took to the skies and touched down in the United States of America.
Leicester Tigers lock Ed Slater was among the five men from the initial 50-man group to remain on these shores on standby.
However, he put aside bitter disappointment to epitomise the rock-solid togetherness that has developed:
Great 3 weeks with a brilliant group of players & staff. Can only give them all my best for Denver and the rest of the campaign.— Ed Slater (@edslater) July 10, 2015
Exeter Chiefs wing Jack Nowell had a suitcase companion...
...while Ben Youngs was only too happy to help out with some autograph signing at the airport after the short coach journey from Pennyhill Park:
Ready and willing
Brad Barritt, Tom Wood and Rob Webber have been in the international fold for the majority of Lancaster’s four-year tenure.
Even so, this would be their first taste of a Rugby World Cup. And the trio seem set on landing selection in the final squad of 31:
Really looking forward to 2 tough weeks in Denver Colorado with @EnglandRugby, fantastic city and will be a great memory for all!— Brad Barritt (@bradbarritt) July 10, 2015
Heading to Denver for 2 weeks altitude training wiv @EnglandRugby . Tough graft on field but a great place to spend some time off it— Tom Wood (@tomwood678) July 11, 2015
Next stop Colorado. ✈️ThoseRockiesAintEvenRocky— Rob Webber (@robwebber2) July 11, 2015
Meanwhile, Danny Cipriani appears intent on honing his skills as well:
Tweet from your seat
Selfies and seat plans were on the agenda as the plane waited on the runway, neighbours Nowell and Richard Wigglesworth passing the time before departure:
Finally, Ben Morgan revealed that his co-passenger would be Gloucester Rugby ally Jonny May:
Nine hours following take-off, the players filed out into arrivals:
Finding their feet
With training not due to start until the beginning of this week, the squad flushed out the journey by relaxing.
Kieran Brookes, Jamie George and Mako Vunipola took a front-row bike ride:
And Corbisiero took in the UFC 189 mixed martial arts bout between Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes:
Absolutely incredible!!! @TheNotoriousMMA take a bow!!— Alex Corbisiero (@AlexCorbs) July 12, 2015
Luke Cowan-Dickie was an immediate convert:
Veterans of the 2010 Churchill Cup in the same city, Corbisiero and Lee Dickson told England Rugby’s Player Diary that Denver offered some fantastic tastes.
Indeed, captain Chris Rosbhaw wasted no time in checking out the city's coffee:
For Matt Kvesic, it was a slither of cheesecake calling his name: