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The message England have given Arundell for first Twickenham start

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Henry Arundell has been urged to trust his instincts against Wales as Steve Borthwick backs the rising England star to become a game-breaker at the Rugby World Cup. Arundell makes only his second start in eight Tests – and his first start at Twickenham – when Warren Gatland’s men visit London on Saturday, lining up on the right wing of an English team that is close to Borthwick’s strongest.

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Owen Farrell is present as captain and is joined by fellow big guns Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola and Jamie George, while Saracens openside Ben Earl makes his long-awaited full debut and Elliot Daly returns after 18 months in international exile.

A tame defeat 20-9 by Wales launched the World Cup warm-up schedule in disheartening fashion last weekend and it is hoped the inclusion of try-scoring Racing 92 sensation Arundell will address some of the finishing deficiencies evident in Cardiff.

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Steve Borthwick reveals why he has selected the players that are going to the 2023 RWC

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Steve Borthwick reveals why he has selected the players that are going to the 2023 RWC

The 20-year-old is the most exciting talent in English rugby and has electric running skills, but Borthwick has insisted that he must not overthink his game.

“Henry is in great physical shape and he has got such incredible natural talents that you want to ensure are always going to be there. We want him to trust his instincts,” Borthwick said.

Team Form

Last 5 Games

2
Wins
0
2
Streak
5
11
Tries Scored
12
26
Points Difference
-69
1/5
First Try
1/5
1/5
First Points
2/5
0/5
Race To 10 Points
1/5

“We want to give him the ball and I’m sure the opposition will know that and try to shut down the space, which may open up opportunities elsewhere. We are aware of that but everyone is looking forward to seeing him. He is a young man with a big future in front of him.

“When you look around world rugby right now you see teams who have players that can break the game up in different ways. One of those ways is pace and Henry has pace.

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“If we can get him the ball in space and he, in particular, doesn’t need a huge amount of space, then he can make things happen. We have already seen him do that in an England shirt and we are looking forward to seeing him do it more.”

Providing firepower on the opposite wing is Daly, the 30-year Saracen whose last England outing came in the 2022 Six Nations, after he which he was frozen out by Eddie Jones.

One of Borthwick’s priorities upon replacing Jones as head coach in December was to re-establish the versatile back with a booming left boot, only for a hamstring injury to rule him out of the entire Six Nations.

“Elliot was one of the first players I rang when I was appointed. He hadn’t been in the environment, hadn’t played an awful lot in recent times,” Borthwick said. “He has been looking really good in training, he has multiple dimensions to his game and I’m looking forward to seeing that on Saturday.”

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A starting XV populated with six Saracens has produced a special moment for 2022 Premiership player of the season Earl, who after 15 caps as a replacement is finally thrust onto the main stage.

Earl was unable to convince Jones, despite his dynamic club form, and was even sent back to his club by Borthwick after two appearances off the bench in the most recent Six Nations but he has impressed during the World Cup training camp.

“What Ben Earl has, which I don’t see too many opensides possess, is the ability to link with the backs in attacking play and to keep the ball moving. That is a rare talent,” Borthwick said.

“He has the pace to operate with the quickest guys. He is up there with the quickest guys in our squad. He is not quite Henry Arundell but not too many people are.”

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1 Comment
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finn 341 days ago

I think it would be really interesting to see if Arundell can be used also as more of a crash ball option. He's clearly strong enough.

I think this would have a few main benefits. First, I think that on a few occasions he's looked like he's struggled to play himself into games a little bit, and has just waited for the ball to come to him in open space. Encouraging him to make himself available to carry through the centre might be a way of encouraging a more long term understanding of how to be more involved in attack. Second, Leicester were really successful using Nadolo as a crash option because of how easily he could switch between running as a member of a forwards pod, to running as a 12-style crasher, to hitting the space like a more classic winger. This arguably gives defenders far more to think about than they would when facing someone like Tuilagi. Arundell is not as big or strong as Nadolo, but a better distributor, and a quicker thinker, so poses the same sort of multi-dimensional threat.

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