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The 'significant' thing Guscott wants from Monday's England squad

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former England midfielder Jeremy Guscott has identified the one thing he believes will be significant when new head coach Steve Borthwick names his first Guinness Six Nations squad on Monday. The successor to the dismissed Eddie Jones is scheduled to announce his selection at 10:30am before holding a media briefing ten minutes later at Twickenham.

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It was November 26, in the immediate aftermath of being at Twickenham and seeing England well beaten by South Africa, that Guscott tweeted: “Can’t remember the last time I felt so frustrated after watching an Eng rugby team play. Serious reboot of some kind needs to happen for the players to rediscover their brilliance.”

Guscott has been encouraged by the remedial steps so far taken by England. However, there is one particular aspect of the Borthwick announcement he insists will be hugely important for this new era which begins on the pitch with the February 4 Calcutta Cup game at home to Scotland.

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“I’m definitely pleased there has been a change because I would not have been looking forward to this England-Scotland match,” he told RugbyPass. “Borthwick is a good choice, he has got a good track record. He announces the squad on Monday and for me, who he chooses as captain will be significant.

“When I think of Geoff Cooke, he picked Will Carling as a young player, a young captain. (Clive) Woodward picked Lawrence Dallaglio and then Martin (Johnson) took over. Jack Rowell went close to home, Carling stopped and Phil de Glanville took over.

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“For change to take place, mentally you need to hear from a different voice. Borthwick is the main different voice although a number of that squad have heard him before, but (Kevin) Sinfield will be new, (Nick) Evans will be new.

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“To make the complete change, you need a new captain and if Borthwick changes the captain from what people are expecting from (Owen) Farrell and not (Courtney) Lawes but someone like (Maro) Itoje, I think we will see an even bigger change in England in attitude and performance.”

Guscott won four Five Nations titles with England, appearing at three World Cups and going on three Lions tours – a total of 73 caps all-in across a decorated Test career that spanned a decade. However, he will feature in next Friday’s premiere of The Grudge, an 80-minute film recounting the story of the 1990 winner-takes-all Grand Slam game that England famously lost to Scotland at Murrayfield in the era of Thatcher’s poll tax, rising nationalism, and animosity both on and off the field.

“It’s serious water under the bridge,” explained Guscott. “It was an amateur game back there, there are lots of strong friendships there and to put a strong story across in a very good way with strong points of view and good memories, it’s nice. I don’t think you can get much better than that.

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