New England head coach Steve Borthwick insists every game counts, adding he won’t prioritize the World Cup over the upcoming Six Nations.
Borthwick was announced as Eddie Jones’ successor on Monday, and his first game in charge will be the Calcutta Cup tie against Scotland on February 4.
Every game counts
Borthwick left Premiership champions Leicester Tigers to sign a five-year contract with the Rugby Football Union, leading him to the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.
The 43-year-old has little time to settle in with England’s Six Nations campaign fast approaching, with the World Cup kicking off next September.
However, he revealed he won’t be using the Six Nations to experiment. His predecessor has been heavily criticized for focusing too much on the tournament in France, and Borthwick is adamant that every game counts.
“Every game counts. Every game you play for England matters. The one that’s on my mind is at the start of these Six Nations,” he said.
“We will use every minute we have to prepare this team as best we can for the first Six Nations game in 47 days. Then, when we’ve played this game, we’ll focus on the next one, then the next one and the next one. We just want to keep improving.
“We know the World Cup is not far away, but the focus is on the start of the Six Nations.”
English players injured.
England have won five from 12 Tests in 2022, their worst year since 2008, which led to Jones being sacked. Borthwick knows the players will suffer but is confident they will get back on track with the new boss focusing on the needed improvement in set pieces.
“To win the Tier 1 tests you need to have a quality set piece and that’s definitely on the priority list,” he said.
“If you look at the Autumn Series, I don’t think England are in the top three in any particular facet of the game, so there’s a lot to work on and do well.
“When I was a player, when the team was coached by Clive Woodward, every game there were posters on the wall – I was 20 or 21 – and the poster I always referred to was the one which said ‘brilliant basics’.
“Obviously there are a lot of English players at Leicester, and I’ve been in contact with players that I’ve known for a very, very long time, and I know how much they’re hurting because they care, they really, really care, they mean well.
Coaching his own way
Borthwick worked as Jones’ assistant coach in Japan and England before leaving England in 2020 to manage Leicester Tigers.
With the relationship built between the two over the years, the new boss confirmed he spoke with his predecessor during the fortnight between Jones’ dismissal and Borthwick’s arrival, but added he would bring his own approach to the role.
“I’m going to coach this team in my own way,” said Borthwick, a former Bath and Saracens player who won 57 caps for England.
“I promise you that I will lead in a truly authentic way. I like to win.
“The other thing I really love about coaching and the way I lead is that I really love helping people; I really care about the people I coach.
“The players I have coached at Leicester over the past two years are really close to my heart. I take enormous joy in their happiness.
“If I can help people experience such highs, it brings me a lot of joy.”
READ MORE: Eddie Jones: Ex-England boss felt he was ‘too nice’ to players and revealed his only regret
The article England: Head coach Steve Borthwick puts aside Rugby World Cup talk first appeared on Planetrugby.com.