Steve Borthwick issued a rallying cry to the Twickenham faithful ahead of his debut as England coach by insisting passionate home support could have more impact “than any player” against Scotland on Saturday.
England’s Six Nations opener will be Borthwick’s first game in charge since he succeeded the sacked Eddie Jones in December.
The final fixture under Jones saw England booed off the field following a lacklustre 27-13 Twickenham defeat by world champions South Africa in November.
That sound made a deep impression on Borthwick, who is desperate to hear a more positive atmosphere this weekend at a venue he has known since boyhood.
“The message I give to them (England fans) will be a pretty simple one in the sense that, in every single study I ever read, the impact of home support is worth more than any one player,” Borthwick said.
“That is the value they can add. So I ask them to be behind this team. It’s the first step right now, in this next chapter of the England team.”
Promising his side would lack nothing in “fight”, Borthwick added: “We want to make the supporters proud and the players to be proud of the team. And we want that to start on Saturday.”
Borthwick, asked if it meant “something” to be England’s head coach, having previously been an England captain, replied: “It means more than something!
“I was 15-years-old the first time I played at Twickenham, England versus Wales, Under-16s. My first thought was ‘what an incredible stadium’ and there were probably (only) about 50 people there.
“I still have a memory of my first cap, walking out down that tunnel and out—and now the ground’s bigger, it’s more vibrant than it was even then.”
If England are to avoid a third successive defeat by their oldest rivals, they will have to combat the threat of Scotland playmaker Finn Russell, long a thorn in their side.
Borthwick, however, was adamant England had an equally potent attacking fly-half in Marcus Smith.
“Clearly he (Russell) is an incredible player who we have to prepare for but then there are some pretty good players in our team,” Borthwick said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how Marcus goes. I think these players have trained really well and I sense an excitement in them.
“I sense that from that pain of seeing the players walking off the pitch with their heads down from not that long ago. I sense now the players are energised to get back out there.”
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