Steve Borthwick maintains a detailed journal for each Rugby World Cup he participates in, whether as a player or coach. His diary for the 2023 tournament is likely to resemble a narrative from a Stephen King novel.
Similar to King’s renowned horror tale ‘It,’ which features a malevolent entity that embodies individuals’ deepest fears, Borthwick’s personal manifestation of dread would likely involve additional injuries or suspensions.
While Borthwick isn’t superstitious, even the most practical thinker would be disheartened by the injury situation plaguing the England squad. The injury roster resembles as though Borthwick has encountered a room filled with shattered mirrors.
A quarter of England’s original 33-man Rugby World Cup squad is unavailable for the upcoming final warm-up Test. Among these eight individuals, two are completely out of the World Cup, one is still uncertain due to injury, two are suspended, and three are in the process of recovering.
Anthony Watson has been ruled out of the World Cup due to a calf injury, and Elliot Daly is dealing with a knee issue. While there is optimism about Daly’s recovery, concerns remain. Tom Curry’s ankle injury prevents his involvement in the warm-up matches, and George Martin and Henry Arundell have their own injury concerns.
Squad captain Owen Farrell’s suspension will lead to his absence in the World Cup opener against Argentina and the subsequent pool-stage match against Japan. Additionally, Billy Vunipola’s suspension will prevent his participation in the clash against Argentina.
The circumstances appear chilling. Borthwick could be forgiven for nervously watching the forthcoming warm-up against Fiji from behind a sofa or even under the covers. His main hope is to make it to France without further adverse developments.
England is set to establish their World Cup base in the picturesque coastal setting of Le Touquet. If the list of absentees continues to grow, this northern coastal town might turn into a scene reminiscent of “The Shining on Sea.”
In the unlikely event that you stumble upon Borthwick typing away on an antique typewriter at England’s team hotel in France, rehashing “All Kicks and No Tries Make Steve a Dull Boy,” the campaign would undoubtedly be in turmoil.
This weekend’s encounter with Fiji holds great significance for England. Just as Jack Nicholson improvised the iconic line “Here’s Johnny!” in Kubrick’s film adaptation of King’s “The Shining,” England could use a pivotal moment of resurgence. The game plan itself has yet to ignite the attack, so Borthwick’s players are unlikely to deviate from their tactical path.
Borthwick and his coaching team have a multitude of backup strategies, and they have already had to tap into those reserves. Veteran Jonny May, initially left out of the 33-man squad, now stands a chance to replace the unfortunate Watson in France.
Despite being clubless, Watson hopes his calf issue won’t become a long-term problem, as he secured a short-term RFU contract for the World Cup. However, come November, he’ll need a new team. May, renowned for his speed, is diligently preparing and aiming to convert opportunities.
May’s aspirations hinge on the performance of England’s new center pairing, Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence. These two powerful players could potentially revitalize England’s attacking game. To succeed as a dynamic pair, they must not only exert brute force but also complement each other’s strengths. If they manage to synergize effectively, they could feature against Argentina on September 9.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn