Rugby World Cup 2023: Steve Borthwick has 'no doubt' England will progress after Fiji loss

England players dejected after losing to Fiji
England will head to the World Cup having lost three of their four warm-up games to Wales, Ireland and Fiji

England coach Steve Borthwick said there is "no doubt" his side will progress after their Rugby World Cup preparations ended with defeat by Fiji.

Fiji's first ever win over England was a far-from-ideal final outing before their World Cup opener against Argentina in Marseille on 9 September.

The 30-22 loss was England's fifth defeat in their past six matches.

"I am very confident in the ability of everybody around the England team," Borthwick told Amazon Prime.

"I see a group of people who are incredibly passionate and desperate for England to do well. I have no doubt this team will progress from this point."

England have lost three out of their four warm-up games heading into the World Cup, with Borthwick having won only three games out of a possible nine since taking over from Eddie Jones in December.

Borthwick, who, prior to taking over from Jones, won the Premiership title with Leicester Tigers, has had less than a year to prepare for the World Cup.

"We knew and we know this is a challenge," Borthwick added.

"I am surrounded by people, players, coaches and management who thrive under the challenge. In two weeks' time, we play Argentina and my job is to ensure the team is right to get the best result against them."

The 43-year-old was capped 57 times by England as a player, captaining the side from 2008-2010, and was part of the squad that reached the 2007 World Cup final, losing to South Africa.

"I have been in England squads where it wasn't stuck together, that is not this team," he added. "This is a team that sticks together and is desperate to do well.

"It is clear what we have to get it right in two weeks' time against Argentina as we know that is going to be a huge game."

England also face Japan, Chile and Samoa in their pool, with a potential quarter-final against Wales, Australia or Fiji to follow.

'The coaches have the vision, the players have to bring it to life'

George Ford kicking the ball against Fiji
George Ford's chip kick helped set up Marcus Smith's second-half try against Fiji

Former England captain Dylan Hartley believes not all the blame should fall on head coach Borthwick and his coaching staff, with the senior players also needing to "take ownership" for how the side will play.

England's 33-man World Cup squad includes more than 1,400 caps, with Courtney Lawes, Dan Cole and Ben Youngs set to appear at their fourth World Cups.

"This is the most experienced England squad you have ever seen on paper - it is a collaborative process," said Hartley, working as a pundit for Amazon Prime.

"If George Ford, Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell are there nodding along, it is their fault. The players need to take ownership, so they are not playing a gameplan they don't believe in.

"As a supporter and friend of many of the guys out there, I am trying to find positives to look at but they are just a way off in just about every facet of the game."

Fly-half Ford started against Fiji and, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, made it clear he and the rest of the squad "100%" buy in to England's gameplan, with "consistency to execute" pinpointed as the main problem.

"It's something that we've never wavered from, it's our consistency to execute that plan and Test matches are about building pressure," said Ford.

"We're not building pressure enough within the games to put enough pressure on the opposition to score points. We do one or two good things and then compound it with one or two errors and you give the opportunity over to the opposition.

"It's a collective but the responsibility is on the players. It's a combined thing with the coaches because that's what the best teams do.

"The coaches have the vision and the plan but the players are the ones who have got to bring it to life and drive it. We understand that there's an urgency in and around that clearly after a couple of our performances, but we're confident we'll do it."

England have conceded 11 tries in their four warm-up matches before the World Cup and Hartley added: "The one thing I would go back to in the next fortnight is defence - you can't ship four or five tries a game and expect to win.

"If you have got a solid set-piece and a solid defence, you have at least got a chance to get parity."