With South Africa, New Zealand and Australia lying in wait in the Autumn Internationals, England will be desperate to avoid being left looking like dummies.
But they weren’t afraid to use them in their training camp in Portugal this week as Eddie Jones tries to identify the marginal gains that could carry them to victory.
The dummies were used by forwards under the supervision of new defence coach John Mitchell as he sought to replicate a ruck situation to concentrate on the defender’s key duties.
England forwards doing jackal drills with John Mitchell this morning. pic.twitter.com/qzKITxeesl
As part of the drill, the dummy is used to replicate a player falling forward with the ball in front of them after a tackle.
The defensive player is required to adopt a ‘jackal’ positon with knees bent, back arched and wrap their arms around the prone player’s chest as if to demonstrate to the referee that the ball is not being released, or in a bid to slow down play.
The forward is then seen moving on to the next part of the exercise involving an inflatable gym ball, which is rolled towards them and intercepted with the same body position.
The specialised black dummy equipment perfectly replicates the prone position of an opposing player during that particular passage of play.
England will be based in Vilamoura, on the Algarve, until next Thursday when they will fly home for their Autumn opener against the Springboks two days later.
All 36 players involved in the training camp were fit to train on Friday and there was not only gym and defensive work, but also sprint training.
England have employed a new sprint coach in Jonas Dodoo and the speed specialist, who works as a consultant to football and rugby teams, put the backs through a series of drils while Jones and senior coaches watched on.
The players carried wooden poles above their heads as they did high-step shuttles, before hopping between lines of cones, with Dodoo joking that some of them resembled dolphins.
Though skies were overcast during training in Vilamoura, Jones wishes to hold warm weather training camps as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for next year’s World Cup in Japan.
The squad will spent two spells in Treviso, Italy, each lasting between eight and 10 days, in July and August next year.
They face Tonga in their World Cup opener in Sapporo on September 22.