England to name Alex Mitchell as scrumhalf in shock selection for opener with Argentina

Published date06 September 2023
AuthorGerard Meagher in Le Touquet
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
Mitchell made his first start in England's final warm-up match, the defeat by Fiji last month, and has just six caps but is expected to be preferred to Danny Care, who is set to be named on the bench, and Ben Youngs. It would be a considerable show of faith from Borthwick – who will name his team on Thursday in Marseille – given Care and Youngs have a combined total of 214 appearances and the latter is England men's most-capped player in history

The 26-year-old Mitchell was omitted from England's training squad in late June – a surprise decision given he had appeared off the bench in four of their five Six Nations fixtures – but was handed a reprieve last month when Jack van Poortvliet was ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury. Despite England's humiliating defeat by Fiji, Mitchell caught the eye in the opening stages with his ability to add tempo to the attack.

His expected selection also signals attacking intent from England, who against Fiji ended a wait of more than six hours to score a try through a back. Borthwick insisted this week that England would be sticking to the conservative game plan that he has instilled since taking over as head coach, but Mitchell would be tasked with providing quick ball in an effort to spark the attack into life. With Jonny May also under consideration for a starting spot on the wing, Borthwick could select two players who were not named in his initial World Cup squad.

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