England forwards coach Matt Proudfoot wants to see the pack on the “front foot” against Italy in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Saturday, as he continues to recover from a bout of coronavirus.
The 49-year-old tested positive in January, and while he only missed one training session before last week’s shock tournament-opening loss to Scotland, it was a less than ideal way to get ready for England’s title defence.
“I only missed one day’s training and I don’t think that was an excuse,” said former Scotland international Proudfoot. “There is a balance between Scotland being really good and us being a couple of percent off what we normally do.”
Proudfoot, a member of South Africa’s coaching staff when the Springboks beat England in the 2019 World Cup final, said of the reigning champions’ display against the Scots: “We let ourselves down there a little bit and, as I say, the focus will be to get this team on the front foot.
“The Italians traditionally have been tough up front and a good side that scrums well and mauls well.
“A lot like Scotland, they try to get in between you and try to distract you, so that has been our focus — how we deliver the dominant performances we did in the autumn.”
Proudfoot’s positive test meant England head coach Eddie Jones and attack chief Simon Amor were also forced to quarantine for 10 days as part of tracing protocols.
Proudfoot said both he and his wife Vanes-Mari, a South African netball international, were taken aback by his positive test.
“First of all, I was quite surprised I got it. My wife and I were really diligent and, coming into camp, I was really diligent.
“I really feel for people who have gone through it and suffered with it worse than I did.
“I was fortunate I had an unbelievable medical team who were advising me and giving me good advice and I got through it very quickly.”
Proudfoot, while pleased by his progress, said he was still suffering from one symptom.
“I am getting better every day and not many after-effects, just I don’t taste food yet. I don’t suppose that is a bad thing for me!”