Alex Mitchell: Half of England squad says Rugby World Cup call-up is ‘a dream’ ahead of Argentina start | Rugby Union News

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Dylan Hartley praises Alex Mitchell’s call-up as a ‘bold move’ that ‘could spark something for England’; The former England captain also describes the team as “absolute dark horses” after a run of five Test defeats in six leading up to the Rugby World Cup in France.

Last updated: 09/08/23 at 3:18 pm

Scrum-half Alex Mitchell has been named to start against Argentina in England's opening match at the Rugby World Cup in France.

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Scrum-half Alex Mitchell has been named to start against Argentina in England’s opening match at the Rugby World Cup in France.

Scrum-half Alex Mitchell has been named to start against Argentina in England’s opening match at the Rugby World Cup in France.

Alex Mitchell, England’s starter in their Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina on Saturday, described his “roller coaster” call-up as a dream come true.

Mitchell was initially left out of England’s 33-man squad for the World Cup, but was given a reprieve when Jack van Poortvliet suffered an ankle injury towards the end of the tournament.

After impressing in his first Test against Fiji, the 26-year-old has retained half-back duties with the aim of adding more intensity to England’s game, while Danny Kerr provides support from the bench.

“It was like a roller coaster,” Mitchell said. “He got out of the team and now he’s back to get a chance [Saturday].

“For me, I’m very excited because I got the chance to play and raise my hand. I’m looking forward to it.

Mitchell plays his club rugby for Northampton Saints

Mitchell plays his club rugby for Northampton Saints

“When I was a kid, this is what you dream about, playing at the top of the game, and that’s the World Cup.

“Being in the first game is a great honour. My family is very proud of me. I’m really looking forward to it and hope we can achieve the result.”

Hartley: England are the ‘dark horses’

Former England captain Dylan Hartley gave Mitchell his stamp of approval, describing the Northampton Saints half as almost like a rat, “always sniffing for chances”.

“I’m a big fan,” Hartley said. Sky Sports News. “It’s a wonderful story of perseverance.

Former England international Dylan Hartley advises against ruling out England's chance at the Rugby World Cup given their positive draw

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Former England international Dylan Hartley advises against ruling out England’s chance at the Rugby World Cup given their positive draw

Former England international Dylan Hartley advises against ruling out England’s chance at the Rugby World Cup given their positive draw

“We haven’t seen much of Alex. He’s not as old as Danny Kerr or Ben Youngs, or as experienced, so he plays at his own pace I guess.

“These other players have been around for a while so I know what they have to do, while Alex is a bit greener, but that’s also very exciting. I’m happy to see him play.”

Hartley added: “It’s a really bold call [head coach] Steve Borthwick would go with such an inexperienced guy. But if you look around him, you’ll find a lot of that elsewhere in the team.

“He’s an amazing attacking threat. I compare him to a little mouse, he’s always snooping around looking for chances. He’s a very instinctive player and can stir something up for England.”

England manager Steve Borthwick insists his team is ready to surprise the people at world rugby club and believes they have been written off too early.

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England manager Steve Borthwick insists his team is ready to surprise the people at world rugby club and believes they have been written off too early.

England manager Steve Borthwick insists his team is ready to surprise the people at world rugby club and believes they have been written off too early.

England are currently on a run of five defeats in six Tests, while Argentina beat them 30-29 in their last meeting at Twickenham in November. But Hartley is for England’s “dark horses” to prevail on Saturday.

“It’s a very important match,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for England to forget about the last month which was a bit disjointed and difficult, and push themselves forward in the Championship as the ultimate dark horse.

“I know there is enough experience in the England squad and when they put pressure on it there is still a suitable team to deal with.

“If they can get past Argentina, they will have a few weeks to prepare before the rugby knockout. As I say, they are the darkest horses at the moment, but I remain hopeful.”



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