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Steve Borthwick reveals lift in intensity as England prepare to go on the attack against Wales

Borthwick’s players have been champing at the bit in training as they prepare to take on their rivals at Twickenham

Harry Latham-Coyle
Thursday 08 February 2024 22:00 GMT
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England are ready to lift their level with Wales coming to Twickenham
England are ready to lift their level with Wales coming to Twickenham (Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has said that England are ready to rip in to Wales at Twickenham on Saturday as he bids to get his squad’s emotional pitch right for their home Six Nations opener.

Borthwick’s side got off to a solid start in Rome last weekend, producing an encouraging showing as they bedded in a number of new starters and systems.

The arrival of Wales in south west London always lifts the intensity, with Borthwick admitting he is having to hold his players back in training given the ferocity with which they have gone after session this week.

Cautioning that he must make sure that they get their levels right to peak on Saturday evening, the England head coach is nonetheless welcoming the attitude and excitement as his squad look to secure a second consecutive win.

“They just want to go out and they want to play,” Borthwick said of preparations for the fixture. “The pace they are running, they want to keep competing.

“It has genuinely lifted the standard across the board, this speed and energy that’s been injected into the squad with these younger players. There is also an excitement about what we are trying to do and the journey we are on now as a new team.

“It’s up to me to ensure that they are physically ready for Saturday and that we are peaking for Saturday, not peaking in the middle of the week.”

Wales travel to Twickenham after a performance of two halves in their opening fixture against Scotland, falling into a 27-0 hole just after the interval but nearly snatching victory after a rip-roaring comeback.

Steve Borthwick has named an unchanged starting fifteen (Getty Images)

Borthwick believes that the second half showing was a better reflection of the challenge England will face in round two, and has backed a settled side to match the intensity Wales will bring.

The return of a fit-again Ellis Genge to the bench is the only change to the 23 in Rome, with England’s five debutants from a week ago retaining their places.

“It is an important step now those players have now entered that Test environment have that continuity and cohesion with it,” Borthwick explained of his selection. “It is a new team that we have here in so many different ways. We had three training sessions in the Italy week and a couple this week.

“It is important to try and keep that element of cohesion that we can build through this first period and then we have a fallow week next week to have more time training together.

“I was struck by some of those combinations that were relatively new. The likes of Fraser Dingwall and Henry Slade in the centres - they did well. We saw Ethan Roots step in at six with Ben Earl who played the World Cup at number eight, and Sam is such experienced Test player at No7 - they became a really good combination.

“The team physically is also in good shape. It is great to have Ellis fit. It gives us another layer of experience and another world class player as he comes back from injury. The speed measurements we are getting off him are brilliant. Physically he looks incredible. He was disappointed he couldn’t be part of the 23 last weekend but he looks ready to go this weekend.”

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