England enter the 2023 Six Nations campaign with a major point to prove having severely struggled in the previous two editions, winning just four of their last ten games under Eddie Jones.
However, a fresh feel of hope surrounds Twickenham as England arrive at the tournament under new management with Steve Borthwick taking over in December.
Borthwick, who coached Leicester Tigers to a Premiership title in 2021, is set to take charge with his former Tigers companion Kevin Sinfield by his side overseeing England’s defensive duties.
Underneath Borthwick’s grizzly exterior, there’s a rugby brain laced with tactical-nause, one perfectly suited to the terrain of international rugby.
There’s no doubt that he will look to mirror the DNA of Leicester Tigers’ 2021 Premiership-winning side with England currently shot of confidence.
England’s struggles in the Autumn Internationals, where they won just one game from four, stemmed from the inability to gain parity up front.
Therefore, there will be a renewed focus on England returning to being ‘brilliant at the basics’ as Borthwick describes it, particularly at the set-piece.
As for the players, there has been a long frustration amongst England fans surrounding the persistent selection of ‘established’ players and omitting those in stellar domestic form.
However, England’s old selection habits are set to change with some of the Premiership’s in-form players in Ollie Hassell-Collins, Ben Curry and Ben Earl all set to feature.
Despite pressure from Marcus Smith pushing Owen Farrell out of his traditional fly-half position, Farrell will still be captaining England at the tournament.
The 31-year-old will instead be playing from 12 and while the question remains about whether the Farrell-Smith combination can work, the captain will likely be kicking for potentially vital points.
Saying that, Farrell’s form from the tee has been on the wane so Smith could end up assuming that role too.
This will be Ben Curry’s first Six Nations, with the flanker having just one cap in 2021 to his name so far.
After injuries have made Curry wait for a key international role, a hamstring injury to twin-brother Tom has left the 24-year-old a chance to establish a starting place ahead of summer’s World Cup.
Against Scotland, should he play, Curry will hope to frustrate the Scots when they have the ball by covering plenty of ground and breaking up play with tackles.
The Harlequins centre is set to play a primary role in England’s campaign alongside Owen Farrell in the centres with Henry Slade injured.
His selection optimises England’s new focus on mobility over physical presence with Manu Tuilagi expected to take a backseat.
The 27-year-old has a unique ability with ball in hand and will look to link with club-team mate Marcus Smith to break down opposing defences.
Marchant’s capacity to run inside to out lines poses a real threat to his opposing outside centres and will be a key cog in England’s attacking plans.
04/02/23, England vs Scotland, Twickenham
12/02/23, England vs Italy, Twickenham
25/02/23, Wales vs England, Principality Stadium
11/03/23, England vs France, Twickenham
18/03/23, Ireland vs England, Aviva Stadium
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Featured image credit: Cam Smith