SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: This England team has its identity back

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Well done Steve Borthwick for ending the chaos and trying to build a settled outfit… consistency in selection is vital and this England team has its identity back

  • England are at the start of a new era but Borthwick is bringing real clarity
  • For past four years you didn’t know who would be picked from game to game
  • Only one change for Wales clash with Hassell-Collins dropping out due to injury

Hooray! Finally some consistency to the England team. For the past three or four years — and arguably even longer — you did not know who would be picked from game to game. The England team had lost its identity and its soul. 

Now, with Steve Borthwick as head coach, we are starting to get an idea of how the side will look. It is clear Borthwick is trying to build a settled England outfit. That is really important. 

Consistency in selection is vital and I want to say a big well done to Borthwick for the way he is picking the team. For Saturday’s game with Wales there is only one change from the win over Italy and even that is injury enforced. Ollie Hassell-Collins drops out and Anthony Watson comes in. 

England head coach Steve Borthwick is bringing clarity with his team selection

Anthony Watson has been named in the England starting XV for the first time since 2021

An injury to Ollie Hassell-Collins means there had to be change in the No 11 jersey

England are at the start of a new era but Borthwick is bringing real clarity to it. No one is ever going to agree 100 per cent with your selections but what you have to have is the courage of your convictions. 

Borthwick deserves real praise for having that. It is a real contrast to the days of Eddie Jones when it was hard to know what was happening. 

The only comment I would have on the latest England selection is that maybe Henry Arundell should be starting. Otherwise, I think it is spot on once again. 

England did enough to beat Italy, but they will have to go up another level to win in Cardiff in what is Borthwick’s first away game. 

Saturday will be a great learning experience for this England team and their coach. It is a huge game for both sides. Wales have been in turmoil with the match only going ahead after their players withdrew the threat of strike action. 

In many ways, it is a no-win situation for England and a no-lose one for Wales. England are expected to win because of the chaos that has been taking place, although it will be far from easy for them. But as long as Borthwick keeps the faith with his continuity of selection, his team will continue to make great strides.

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