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Rugby Union: Steve Borthwick excited by England challenge

Steve Borthwick says he is "deeply honoured" after being confirmed as England's new head coach on a five-year deal.

Borthwick was always believed to be the number one candidate to replace former incumbent Eddie Jones after World Cup 2023, but those plans were accelerated after the Australian was relieved of his duties following a poor 2022.

Jones only guided the Red Rose to five wins from 12 Tests this year and, after a review into his performance by the RFU, the decision was made to part ways with the head coach who guided the country to a World Cup final in 2019.

Stepping into his shoes is Borthwick, who played lock in 57 Tests for England from 2001-2010 and captained the side 21 times before retiring from rugby at the end of the 2013/14 season.

Coaching credentials clear to see

Borthwick's first coaching job came in 2012 when he was assistant to Jones for Japan until 2015, before the Englishman then joined Bath that same year as forwards coach.

The 43-year-old was again reunited with Jones in 2015, becoming the Australian's forwards coach for England until 2020 before then being appointed Leicester's head coach.

During his time with the Tigers, the former lock led the team to the 2021/22 Premiership title and he was also recognised as the season's Director of Rugby, having spearheaded the club's best winning run for 25 years.

Step up for Borthwick

Having previous experience of working on the international stage will be a big help for Borthwick, but all the pressure will now fall on his shoulders after taking the head coach job and it will be intriguing to see how he settles into the role.

The Cumbria-born star takes over an England side that are just nine months away from World Cup 2023, a tournament the Red Rose are 11/2 to win for the first time since 2003.

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Speaking after his appointment, Borthwick said: "I'm deeply honoured to be appointed England head coach, and I am very excited by the challenge.

"The English game is full of talent and I want to build a winning team which makes the most of our huge potential and inspires young people to fall in love with rugby union the way I did. I want the whole country to be proud of us and to enjoy watching us play.

"The hard work starts now and planning for the Guinness Six Nations and Rugby World Cup begins today. I will give it everything."

Rugby league legend on board

Along with Borthwick's appointment, it has also been confirmed that Kevin Sinfield has been named defence coach, taking on the role this week.

This is the same position the 42-year-old held at Leicester, a club he joined in 2021, and he will be hoping to improve an England side that conceded points with regularity during the Autumn Nations campaign.

Sinfield is well-known in rugby league and he was a player, captain and director of rugby for Leeds Rhinos, whom he led to seven Super League championships and two Challenge Cup successes.

Reacting to his appointment. he said: "It is a special moment to join England as a coach. I know what representing your country means and to get the chance to do it as a coach is a real honour.

"There is so much player talent in England and I am really looking forward to working with the wider squad of players to see what we can achieve together, especially with such a massive year ahead of us."

Six Nations the first test

There isn't a great deal of time for Borthwick to prepare his squad for World Cup 2023, but the immediate goal before that major tournament in France will be Six Nations 2023.

England finished third in last year's Six Nations - 15 points behind champions France - and the Red Rose are 5/1 to make amends in 2022 and win the event for the first time since 2020.

France, who are 5/2 to win World Cup 2023, are 11/8 to defend their 6N title while Ireland - second in 2021 - are 11/8 to go one better.

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