This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Written-off England ready for ‘best’ Argentina team in their Rugby World Cup opener

England players during a training session at the Stade Ferdinand Petit in northern France. PHOTO: AFP

MARSEILLE – England, beaten World Cup finalists four years ago, get their 2023 campaign under way against Argentina in Marseille on Saturday, but will go into the match hoping to break a poor run of results that has seen Los Pumas installed as marginal favourites.

The English have dropped to eighth in the world rankings, while Argentina are sixth, with the two teams drawn in a Pool D that also includes Samoa, Japan and Chile.

England’s Steve Borthwick has overseen six defeats in nine matches as coach, having taken over from Australian Eddie Jones only less than a year ago.

But the tag of underdog does not sit well with the former England lock who played in the 2007 World Cup when England overcome a poor start and patchy form to reach the final.

“I sense that there’s a feeling that we have been written off too early, people called time on them (the players) a bit too early,” said Borthwick.

“There’s a lot of class in this squad and I think these players have got a hell of a lot more to go.”

The team suffered the ignominy of a first-ever loss to Fiji, a humbling 30-22 defeat at Twickenham in their final pre-tournament match in August, which was a fifth defeat in their last six games.

One positive from that game, however, was the performance of scrum-half Alex Mitchell, who will come from a late injury call-up straight into a starting spot at the Stade Velodrome.

Despite a record home defeat by France in the Six Nations earlier this season, alongside losses to Scotland, Wales and Ireland (twice) in 2023, stand-in skipper Courtney Lawes echoed Borthwick, insisting that the team boasted enough experience to get past their rocky patch.

“It’s the first game of the World Cup and we’re going to be well up for it,” the flanker said.

“It’s going to be hell of a spectacle. We’re going all guns blazing and give it all we’ve got.”

The task ahead, however, was not lost on Borthwick.

“Argentina are an exceptionally strong side,” he acknowledged.

“In the last year they’ve beaten England at Twickenham, they’ve beaten New Zealand and Australia, so we know they’re a formidable challenge and arguably the best Argentinian side to come to the World Cup.

“But I have every confidence in the players. I sense a real determination from the players to perform to the best of their abilities on Saturday night.”

History is on England’s side, having run out winners over Argentina in their three previous World Cup pool matches – 39-10 in 2019, 13-9 in 2011 and 24-18 in 1995.

And they have lost only five times to Argentina in 25 matches in total, although the last time they played Los Pumas they were 30-29 losers at Twickenham.

Argentina coach Michael Cheika, who led Australia to the final in 2015 and quarter-finals four years ago when the Wallabies were beaten by England, insisted that the focus was purely on his side and not their opponents’ poor form.

“We are only thinking about ourselves. Everything happening outside is a distraction for us,” he said.

“We prepared as we always do. We are happy because preparation is more important than the game because it is what we can control.” AFP