Steve Borthwick looking to relieve pressure on under-performing England

England have taken steps to relieve the pressure on their under-performing stars with Steve Borthwick admitting his players are feeling the weight of the jersey.

An Ireland side pursuing consecutive Grand Slam titles – a feat never achieved in the Guinness Six Nations era – are overwhelming favourites to prevail when the rivals clash at Twickenham on Saturday.

England, meanwhile, have been forced to regroup after a nine-point mauling by Scotland in round three that has left them facing another deflating Championship.

Borthwick has freshened up his side after the Edinburgh collapse, giving starts to wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, scrum-half Alex Mitchell and lock George Martin, while Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt are new faces on the bench.

Steve Borthwick says England's players feeling the weight of the jersey
Steve Borthwick says England’s players are feeling the weight of the jersey (Adam Davy/PA)

“We know that against Scotland there were errors,” said Borthwick, in reference to the 22 turnovers and 25 handling errors conceded by his side.

“It’s probably the first time in a while I’d seen the weight of the shirt feels heavy on the players. We’ve worked around that and to develop that.

“We try to make an environment where the players enjoy it, where we know mistakes are going to be made, but still continue to do the right things.

“I back the players. Yes we made errors. We’re disappointed in the performance and we’re disappointed in the result.

“I’ve made some of changes to the team but I believe in these players. I sense a determination in them to put in a performance this weekend and there has been ever since the end of that Scotland game.”

England have managed only two wins in each of their last three Six Nations and with Ireland next up – Borthwick described them as the best team in the world – followed by France in Lyon, they could endure the same outcome in 2024.

Captain Jamie George admitted they “tightened up” against Scotland but has told his players not to retreat into their shells.

“The main focus for us the last couple of weeks in particular has been around making sure that we can be ourselves, making sure that it is still okay to make mistakes but that we’re going to learn very quickly from those,” George said.

Feyi-Waboso’s inclusion on the right wing at the expense of Elliot Daly is an audacious selection for a player whose two caps against Italy and Scotland total 20 minutes as a replacement.

But the 21-year-old Exeter Chief made an impact at Murrayfield, including running in a try, and is picked less than a year after playing for Taunton Titans in National League One.

“Manny’s ready – he’s more than ready. You’ve seen that in the time he’s had on the field so far in the Six Nations,” George said.

“He’s an incredible talent, but the maturity we’ve seen from Manny is something that’s impressed me a lot.

“His willingness to learn, he’s eager, you’re constantly having to pull him back, but he’s so excited for this opportunity, you can see that, and that energy is infectious throughout the team.”

Danny Care will win his 100th cap off the bench to become the sixth England men’s player to reach the milestone.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –