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Mitchell and Marchant desperate to grab second chances

MARSEILLE, France - When Eddie Jones was in charge of England Alex Mitchell and Joe Marchant pretty much resigned themselves to watching the Rugby World Cup from TV, yet, given a new lease of life under Steve Borthwick, both will start Saturday's game against Argentina.

Mitchell cut it the finest, from being dropped from the original squad a month ago, called up to replace the injured Jack van Poortvliet then "training his way" past uber-experienced duo Ben Youngs and Danny Care to earn the starting number nine shirt for only the second time in a career of six caps.

"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster, hasn’t it, a bit weird," Mitchell told journalists after getting a first feel of the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Friday.

"Out of the squad and now back in and getting a shot tomorrow. I am just massively excited at getting an opportunity to play and putting my hand up.

"As a kid it’s a thing you dream of, playing at the top of the game, so to start the first World Cup game is a massive honour."

Jones famously refused to countenance three scrumhalves in his squads and paid the price when he was forced to fly out Ben Spencer as emergency cover for the final four years ago when Willi Heinz got injured.

Borthwick has gone down the more traditional three nines route, but even then Mitchell was initially out of the frame for France. Borthwick, however, told him to stay fit, keep working and to be ready as "anything can happen" and sure enough, Van Poortvliet's injury opened the door.

"I stayed ready then got called to come in, I trained hard and tried to put my hand up again," said Mitchell, 26, whose only previous start came in last month's defeat by Fiji.

That was a fourth successive flat warm-up display by England and fans will be hoping Mitchell can inject some much-needed speed and urgency in the real thing.

"If I can bring tempo and energy to the side I’ll try to do that but we will stick to the game plan," he said. "We'll do that and try to bring our X-factor after that."

Assistant coach and former scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth, who played in England's 2011 World Cup pool win over the Pumas, was full of praise for the Northampton man.

"I don’t think you can play scrumhalf at the top level without having an incredibly accurate, quick pass and a good box kick but on the back of his speed of service is his speed of foot," he said. "How sharp he is around the ruck - he’s always alive to opportunities."

  Marchant will start at 13 alongside Manu Tuilagi having come from even further out - the "no way back," home for Eddie Jones discards.

Overlooked by the Australian for last November's internationals, the Harlequins centre/wing so was convinced the England door was closed that he agreed a deal to move to French club Stade Francais for the upcoming season, meaning he would be ineligible for his country.

However, upon replacing Jones, Borthwick immediately recalled Marchant for the Six Nations and then included him in the World Cup squad ahead of regular centre Henry Slade.

"It's been a strange one," Marchant said. "A year ago I was out of the mix completely, played in Australia and after that I was out of it. Steve selected me in the Six Nations squad and the more I've been in, the more confident I've got. I feel like I'm at my best so I'm really pleased." REUTERS