England: Steve Borthwick to take it back to basics in Six Nations opener and hails skipper Owen Farrell

Adam Kyriacou
Steve Borthwick and Owen Farrell

England head coach Steve Borthwick wants a no-excuses environment in his squad as he looks to hit the ground running in this year’s Six Nations.

Borthwick, who replaced the sacked Eddie Jones last month, begins his tenure with a home clash with Scotland as he looks to inject new life into the Red Rose.

The Rugby Football Union felt they had to act on the coach position after a dismal Autumn Nations Series, despite the World Cup being less than a year away.

Some tactical changes from England

Therefore it’s a short window for Borthwick to get his message to the players going out onto the rugby field, but he is confident in a slow and steady approach.

“In the time that we have, we will need to get the base of the game in place,” he said as that huge Scotland opener at Twickenham is just over one week away.

“I said to the players to expect basic preparation from the management team for the first game, then we will get better in terms of how we prepare the team. And we will get better as a team accordingly.

“There will be some tactical changes, but clearly in the preparation time that we have, those will be minimal.

“The time is what it is, and I’m not going to be a coach who sits here and starts talking about time or injuries or availability.

“I have got the opportunity to coach the England rugby team. Whether I’m given one day, one week, one year or 10 years, I will use every minute that we have.

“I have got some fantastic players who are desperate to do well, desperate to build a team that we can all be proud of.”

Borthwick admits that being a spectator of England’s form during the autumn was a difficult watch as he felt the team did not react to being under pressure.

“As an England supporter watching those autumn series games I was gutted,” he said.

“The reality is that in the autumn, when the pressure came on and things went wrong, or got challenged, the team did not have the clarity to move forward and that’s a point the players have said to me many times.

“The players need clarity on how they’re going to play. They need to have the courage to play to their strengths on the field and fight in every single contest.

“We will make tactical changes, we will improve tactically over a period of time, but fundamentally we need to go out on to that field against a Scotland team coming here with a lot of confidence and we need to fight.”

Praise for captain Owen Farrell

The on-field general Borthwick has chosen to lead this Six Nations is Owen Farrell, who takes over from Courtney Lawes, and is a player the coach admires.

“I’ve known Owen since he was 17 or 18 years old as a player at Saracens,” Borthwick said of his former team-mate.

“Now it’s normal that when a 17 or 18-year-old enters first team training at the start of their careers they are quiet and reserved.

“Owen’s different. Owen came on to the training field and everyone was struck with awe by how hard he pushes himself.

“Everybody was also struck by how much he demanded of those around him. That’s Owen, it’s what he does and why he is captain of England.”

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