Six Nations 2024: Fraser Dingwall to bring England a 'different dimension', says Steve Borthwick

Fraser Dingwall

Guinness Six Nations: Italy v England

Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 3 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT

Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra; live text and match highlights on BBC Sport website and app; watch live on ITV1.

Steve Borthwick says Fraser Dingwall will bring a "different dimension" when he makes his Test debut in England's Six Nations opener in Italy.

Dingwall starts at inside centre as one of five uncapped players in head coach Borthwick's matchday squad on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Northampton back has been involved in 10 previous England camps and claims a position filled by Manu Tuilagi during the World Cup.

"Everyone can see how well he's been playing," Borthwick told BBC Sport.

"I think he has described himself as 'pretty persistent' and I would say that is the understatement of the century.

"This is a guy who is determined to play Test rugby, works incredibly hard and clearly deserves his opportunity.

"He is coming in and trying to add different dimensions to our game. We want to make sure everyone is tactically aligned so they feel like they can bring all of their super strengths onto the pitch."

Borthwick has often favoured Tuilagi's power and direct running in midfield but Dingwall possesses a different skillset to the 32-year-old Sale centre, who is missing from the squad because of a groin injury.

"Fraser is a really smart defender and excellent distributor," Borthwick added.

"He finds space when he chooses to carry and is very different in physical stature to Manu Tuilagi but he uses all of his talent in a really intelligent way."

'It hasn't quite sunk in yet'

Dingwall played age-grade rugby for Scotland and could have been tempted to switch allegiance to Gregor Townsend's senior side having failed to win an England cap until this point.

But the Saints academy graduate says he is now "dead set" on achieving success with England.

"There is lot of excitement and pride and so many emotions," Dingwall told BBC Sport. "It hasn't quite sunk in yet and I don't think it will until after the game.

"The 10 squads is a funny one because I didn't actually realise it had been that many until now, but I'm really thankful for all of those as it's really shown to me what has been required to make that jump.

"Had it [first cap] come earlier, I don't think I would've been ready, whereas now I'm in a place where I'm more sure of myself and I can go into this game really keen to perform rather than just be there."

Asked if he ever thought about making himself available for Scotland, Dingwall said: "There have probably been times where it has been hard as I've been in and around so many squads but I don't think I've ever been in a place where I've justified selection enough to turn my back [on England]."

Dingwall will be alongside familiar faces in a backline which includes Northampton scrum-half Alex Mitchell and wing Tommy Freeman, while Fin Smith could also make his debut at fly-half from the bench.

England have not won their opening game of the past four Six Nations, something the centre says he is eager to change against the Azzurri.

"It's something we are keen to set straight," he said. "We don't want to sleepwalk into a Six Nations, we want to attack it from the start.

"There is added pressure with me being a debutant but I'm trying to avoid that in my head. I'm just sticking to our plan and how we want to play and then the result will take care of itself."