Saturday 16 December 2017

Borthwick: Time to deliver

Steve Borthwick
Steve Borthwick

England open their RBS 6 Nations campaign against Wales on Saturday and captain Steve Borthwick declared: "It is time to deliver".

Team manager Martin Johnson has picked the boldest, most attacking team of a troubled 18-month tenure and given England a licence to express themselves. The inclusion of Mathew Tait at outside centre and Danny Care at scrum-half are the signature selections, indicating a marked change in emphasis from England's miserable autumn campaign.

"We want to deliver. We have spoken as players about delivering the performance on the field, which is every one of us playing to the best of our abilities - and for 80 minutes," said Borthwick.

"There have been times when we have been very competitive against the best teams in the world but we haven't maintained it for 80 minutes.

"We understand that. We all know that going out this weekend - and every weekend when you are playing for England - it is about delivering the best performances we can."

Borthwick will captain England for the 17th consecutive Test match but he has rarely been in charge of a settled team.

The England side that ended last year's Six Nations in second place was diluted for the summer tour by Lions call-ups and then decimated by injuries in the autumn.

Borthwick believes the upheaval will actually stand England in good stead in the long term - which, in everyone's mind, means the 2011 World Cup.

"It would have been fantastic to have a stable group of players. That has not been the reality but those experiences have undoubtedly made us a stronger group," said Borthwick.

"You can learn from all experiences, good and bad. That is something I have tried to do as a captain. But the success of any side needs a strong leadership group. We are developing a leadership group of some stature when you think of Lewis Moody, Jonny Wilkinson, Mark Cueto, Simon Shaw."

Press Association

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