Richard Wigglesworth confident England will have clean bill of health for Rugby World Cup opener

Richard Wigglesworth confident England will have clean bill of health for Rugby World Cup opener

Richard Wigglesworth has insisted all of England’s players will be fit for their Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina despite a hefty list of walking wounded.

England’s attack coach downplayed the Red Rose squad’s injury profile ahead of their first Pool D encounter, against the Pumas in Marseille on Saturday week.

England were treated to a warm welcome amid their official World Cup capping ceremony in their base camp town of Le Touquet on Saturday, with boss Steve Borthwick’s side settling into their plush surroundings.

Courtney Lawes missed the occasion due to soreness after Friday’s training session in the north coastal town, but Wigglesworth was unconcerned about the status of the lock who is in line to captain England against Argentina.

Squad captain Owen Farrell and No 8 Billy Vunipola will miss the Pumas clash through suspension, but England are still sweating on a raft of other players

Tom Curry missed England’s entire World Cup warm-up programme with an ankle problem, and did not train on Friday.

The Sale flanker would be a nailed-on starter if fit, but his absences now make it a race against time for him to be ready to feature against Argentina. Elliot Daly has been carrying a calf problem and lock George Martin a knee complaint, while Kyle Sinckler had a chest issue.

“There are a few little bumps and bruises like everyone has, but I think we will go into next weekend with a pretty clean bill of health,” said Wigglesworth.

“Tom Curry should be good to go, we are hopeful everyone is going to be ready. We don’t know yet but we think we should be good going in.

“Courtney Lawes is a bit sore from training on Friday, so we decided the best thing for him was not to sit in a chair for an hour or so, then have to stand up.

“He is resting at the hotel, he is a bit sore from training, the pitch was heavy because of the rain. It’s nothing too serious, we are just looking after him.”

England have slipped to their joint lowest-ever world ranking of eighth before the World Cup, in the wake of their maiden defeat by Fiji at Twickenham.

Argentina have jumped above England in the rankings, and Michael Cheika’s team have a fine chance of victory in the south of France.

Wigglesworth refused to quantify the scale of improvement England must deliver for the World Cup, despite losing three of their last four Tests and six of Borthwick’s nine in charge.

The former Leicester coach also insisted England are able to insulate themselves from outside criticism.

Steve Borthwick’s side go into the World Cup in dreadful form (Getty Images)
Steve Borthwick’s side go into the World Cup in dreadful form (Getty Images)

England’s biggest danger now may be that in ignoring wider criticism they may bury their heads in the sand of a fast-approaching World Cup failure.

Borthwick and his coaches are steadfast in their resolve that the plan will come together in time, despite all evidence on the field so far acting in contradiction.

“We know we need to improve; I’m not going to pluck a percentage out of the air,” said Wigglesworth.

“In the magic that is the game of rugby many things happen, so there are a few things we have got to get right and to improve. The lads have started getting into that over the last few days. We’re confident that we’ll improve and give a good account of ourselves.

“We had to put some things in place being a new team together, but I don’t think there’s ever been the situation where they haven’t been particularly close with us coaches.

“From my point of view my relationship with those lads, I’m close with a lot of them. We’ve been in constant dialogue.”

When asked about the external criticism coming England’s way, Wigglesworth continued: “You’re assuming that it’s filtered through. If you’re inside the group then you know something I don’t.

“You filter the noise. It’s all completely individual that sort of stuff. We know where we want to go as a team, we know how hard we’re working.

“The lads have been first-class. You’re probably plucking at things, hearsay and what may be untrue, so I wouldn’t like to comment on that.”