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Farrell to miss out as Borthwick announces strong England side to face Ireland

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Thursday Aug 17, 2023

It’s crunch time for England rugby now, as they make their way to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday to face Ireland in their penultimate warm-up match before the World Cup.

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The squad has been subject to much scrutiny in recent times, with Head Coach Steve Borthwick’s selections being debated just as much as his predecessor’s, Eddie Jones.

His selection policy isn’t the only judgement call on trial by public opinion, however, his reintroduced style of play focusing on hard attacking lines and precision box kicks is causing restlessness from many England fans.

The lack of fluidity in the England game plan is quickly losing the interest of many supporters, with such a tactic needing to be backed up with convincing wins, otherwise, Borthwick could be in dangerous territory from his own backing.

Borthwick’s plan seems to be very reminiscent of the Chelsea Football Club era of the mid-2000s, when under the tutelage of a certain Jose Mourinho the men in blue ground out result after result without really needing to set the game alight.

This, at the time, worked perfectly well for the Portuguese manager due to the fact that his side were getting the results – fans don’t care how they’re achieved, as long as they are.

The problem for Borthwick running the same style of systematic play is that they are not always getting the results required.

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You either win, or you lose well. England are rarely doing either.

The controversial rescinding of captain Owen Farrell’s red card and subsequent appeal from World Rugby has taken much of the focus away from Steve Borthwick and his other players this week.

Farrell will not be taking his place in the England squad this weekend, as he will remain in the stands watching counterpart George Ford pulling the strings at flyhalf. The former Leicester player has had the growing support of many fans to take the mantle from Farrell at ten during this World Cup.

The centre partnership of Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant will no doubt provide a wonderful mixture of power and speed, giving Ford the option to unlock the Irish defence using the pure athleticism in his midfield.

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The back three of Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Freddie Steward is filled to the brim with experience and talent – as Borthwick aims to utilise a team full of match-winning experience.

Building upon this experience, Leicester Tigers player, Ben Youngs will be marshalling the forward pack. The record England cap holder will aim to control the game in a way that will keep the Irish defence on edge, whilst allowing England the opportunity to put into practice a game plan that has not yet flourished.

The front row has a familiar feel about it, with Ellis Genge, Jamie George and Will Stuart providing the muscle at the front of the scrum. Behind them is a second row partnership consisting of the ever-present Maro Itoje, and international newcomer David Ribbans.

A striking combination of captain, Courtney Lawes, Billy Vunipola and Ben Earl will provide electrifying power from the back row to finish of what looks very close to England’s strongest XV.

 

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England Starting XV:
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 24 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (unattached, 55 caps)
13. Joe Marchant (Stade Francais, 17 caps)
12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 51 caps)
11. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 58 caps)
10. George Ford – vice-captain (Sale Sharks, 83 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 123 caps)
1. Ellis Genge – vice-captain (Bristol Bears, 50 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 78 caps)
3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 27 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 68 caps)
5. David Ribbans (Toulon, 6 caps)
6. Courtney Lawes © (Northampton Saints, 98 caps)
7. Ben Earl (Saracens, 16 caps)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 69 caps)

Replacements:
16. Theo Dan (Saracens, 1 cap)
17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 80 caps)
18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 62 caps)
19. Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps)
20. Jack Willis (Toulouse, 11 caps)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 88 caps)
22. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 22 caps)
23. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)

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