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No ‘mind games’ for England coach Borthwick

Steve Borthwick may have learned his trade as a coach under Eddie Jones but the new England boss said on Monday he has no intention of emulating his predecessor’s mind games, insisting he will remain “authentic”.

Jones, now in charge of his native Australia for a second time after being sacked by England, has long been renowned for throwing “verbal hand grenades” during the build-up to matches in a bid to unsettle his opponents.

Borthwick served as an assistant to Jones when the veteran coach was in charge of Japan and then England.

“My strategy is to be very up front. What I’m going to do is be me and be authentic to me,” Borthwick told reporters.

“What’s that? I care deeply about my players. I want them to go out on to the field and play for England and be the best version of themselves.”

The 43-year-old former lock, whose international career spanned from 2001-10, added: “As a player I was privileged to play 57 times for England. I had the great honour of captaining my country on 21 occasions. Now I look back at a lot of that time and I regret a lot of the things I didn’t do. 

“Did I ever give the very, very best account of myself? I always put the effort in, but did I ever feel I put all my strengths on the pitch? Did I ever feel I gave the absolute best of myself? 

“Would I like to rewind the clock and go back and try and do it again? Yeah, I would. 

“I can’t, unfortunately, because I’m old and can’t do it, as Owen (Farrell) keeps reminding me.”

Borthwick left Jones’ England set-up to take charge of Leicester, whom he guided to the Premiership title last season.

But he found himself succeeding Jones when Twickenham chiefs decided to fire the 62-year-old just nine months out from this year’s Rugby World Cup in France, following a woeful 2022 where England lost six out of 12 Tests.

Borthwick insisted a huge motivation was to help the current squad avoid the errors of his own playing career.

“I want to help these young guys not make the mistakes I made. When they’re old and have no hair like me, I want them to not have regrets. I don’t want them looking back thinking ‘I wish I’d done that or I could have done that’.

Borthwick takes over with England at a low ebb following an Autumn Nations Series where they won just one of four matches.

The 2019 World Cup finalists have also lost six of their last 10 matches in the Six Nations heading into this season’s opener at home to Scotland on February 4.

“What I want the players to do is bring their great strengths on to the field in an England shirt because they’re incredibly talented,” he said.

“They’re good enough but whether we win or lose, I want us to be better the next week. I’m going to be authentic and not play mind games. I’ll leave that to other coaches.”

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