Rugby World Cup 2023: England's players feel 'written off a bit too early' says Steve Borthwick

Ollie Chessum runs with the ball during an England training session at their Le Touquet base in France
England have lost five of their last six matches and are ranked eighth in he world

2023 Rugby World Cup

Hosts: France Dates: 8 September to 28 October

Coverage: Full commentary of every game across BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

England's players feel "they have been written off a bit too early" before the Rugby World Cup, says head coach Steve Borthwick.

Borthwick's side have endured a highly difficult build-up, with three defeats in warm-up matches, as well as injuries and suspensions to key players.

England open their campaign against Argentina in Marseille on Saturday.

"We've been through a pretty turbulent time but I sense it has made us stronger," Borthwick told BBC Sport.

"And I sense for us there is a renewed determination. And I certainly get the feeling from the players that they feel they have been written off a bit too early.

"There is a feeling people have rung time on these players. And I think that decision may have been made a little bit too early."

'My players like a challenge'

As well as losing starting scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet and wing Anthony Watson to tournament-ending injuries, England will be without the banned Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola for the showdown with the Pumas.

However, the remaining 31 players in the squad took part in training on Monday, with Borthwick expecting to be able to choose from a fully-fit squad when he confirms his team on Thursday.

"At this stage I anticipate everyone being available for selection for the weekend," he added.

"We have been building towards 9 September and being ready for 9 September, and that has not changed.

"We know it's a formidable challenge, but I look at my players and I know they like a challenge.

"They have been challenged both on the field and off the field, but they are up for it."

It was a mistake and I accept it - Farrell

Meanwhile, Farrell says he is "very frustrated" and "gutted" to be missing England's first two pool matches, after an appeal hearing upheld the red card he was given against Wales last month.

"It was a mistake and people get stuff wrong sometimes, in this sport especially," he told BBC Sport.

"It was a split-second thing. I am not trying to make excuses, I am not moaning about anything that has gone on, I am saying it was a mistake and I accept it and let's move on."

Farrell added some "open and honest" conversations have taken place in the aftermath of England's chastening defeat by Fiji.

"If the players have got something to say they have always been encouraged to say it," he said. "But has that been more so off the back of a couple of losses? Maybe a bit, I don't know.

"We have a massive belief in what we can do as a team. We are looking forward to hopefully doing that on Saturday.

"It's a big, big game, played in a brilliant stadium, and I wish I was a part of it.

"I have massive confidence in the squad, because I know what this whole group is capable of, and I know that it is something that can turn pretty quickly.

"There has been a good feel to what we have been doing over the past few days and we need to make sure that builds up into the weekend."

England's Pool D fixtures

Saturday, 9 September: England v Argentina (Stade de Marseille), 20:00

Sunday, 17 September: England v Japan (Stade de Nice), 20:00

Saturday, 23 September: England v Chile (Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille), 16:45

Saturday 7 October: England v Samoa (Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille), 16:45