England spring ‘Mitch’ on Pumas

Alex Mitchell has been named at scrumhalf in a surprise call by coach Steve Borthwick for England’s World Cup Pool D opener against Argentina in Marseille on Saturday.

Mitchell, 26, was a late call-up to the England squad after Jack Van Poortvliet was ruled out with injury.

Danny Care is named on the bench, with the vastly experienced Ben Youngs missing out on the match-day 23 altogether.

“Great credit to ‘Mitch’, he was incredibly disappointed not to make the initial 33-man squad,” said Borthwick, highlighting Mitchell’s role in England’s final warm-up match which they lost to Fiji, 30-22, in what was only his sixth international appearance.

“An opportunity opened up and one of the positives that came out of that Fiji game was his [Mitchell’s] performance.

“He played well, he’s trained exceptionally well, he’s done exactly what we’ve asked him: be ready to go.”

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Borthwick, labelling Mitchell a “dangerous runner”, added: “At scrumhalf we’ve got a lot of strength. Each week it’s about ensuring getting the two best scrum-halves to get the job done.”

Courtney Lawes is named captain at blindside flanker and is joined in the back row by Tom Curry on the openside and Ben Earl at No 8.

In the front row, vice-captain Ellis Genge starts at loosehead prop with Jamie George at hooker and Dan Cole on the tighthead.

Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum are paired at lock, while Mitchell will team up with George Ford at half-back.

Manu Tuilagi partners Joe Marchant in midfield, with Jonny May and Elliot Daly filling the wingers’ spots and Freddie Steward at fullback.

“With an excellent week of preparation in Le Touquet, the players are now looking forward to starting their Rugby World Cup campaign under the lights in Marseille on Saturday,” said Borthwick.

“After a number of impressive performances in the last 12 months by Argentina, we know that the first game in our pool will provide a stern test.

“This great tournament provides an excitingly special opportunity for our players, who I know, as ever, will be giving their all in front of our travelling support in the south of France.”

England 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jonny May, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes (c), 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge.
Subs: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 George Martin, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Danny Care, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Ollie Lawrence

© Agence France-Presse

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