England hand shock start to Alex Mitchell for World Cup opener

England hand shock start to scrum-half Alex Mitchell for World Cup opener against Argentina, as experienced prop Dan Cole also gets the nod and Tom Curry returns from injury

  • Steve Borthwick has named Alex Mitchell to start at scrum-half on Saturday
  • Dan Cole has got the nod to play at prop, as he plays in his fourth World Cup
  • Tom Curry will play in the back row after recovering from a serious injury 
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

England have handed a shock start to Alex Mitchell for their World Cup opener with Argentina.

Mitchell has previously started just one Test for his country, wearing the No9 jersey for the humiliating defeat by Fiji in the final warm-up fixture.

The scrum-half was not named in Steve Borthwick’s original 33-man squad, before being drafted in as injury cover for Jack van Poortvliet.

Winger Jonny May was also overlooked in the initial squad but has been named to start on the wing for the Pool C showdown in Marseille.

Mitchell will form a half-back combination with George Ford, in a quest to unleash Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant in the centres.

Alex Mitchell (pictured) will start at scrum-half for England against Argentina on Saturday

Dan Cole (pictured) has been given the nod by Steve Borthwick to start in the front row

Tom Curry (left) starts after spending over three months on the sidelines due to injury

Elliot Daly and Freddie Steward join May in the back-three, with Marcus Smith named on the bench to cover fly-half and full-back.

‘With an excellent week of preparation in Le Touquet, the players are now looking forward to starting their Rugby World Cup campaign under the lights in Marseille on Saturday,’ said Borthwick.

‘After a number of impressive performances in the last 12 months by Argentina, we know that the first game in our pool will provide a stern test.

‘This great tournament provides an excitingly special opportunity for our players, who I know, as ever, will be giving their all in front of our travelling support in the south of France.’

After three months on the sidelines, Tom Curry returns from injury to start in the No 7 shirt, joining Courtney Lawes and Ben Earl in the back-row.

Ellis Genge, Jamie George and Dan Cole bring more than 200 caps of experience in the front-row, with Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum combining at lock.

England XV to face Argentina

15. Freddie Steward 14. Jonny May 13. Joe Marchant 12. Manu Tuilagi 11. Elliot Daly 10. George Ford – vice-captain 9. Alex Mitchell; 1. Ellis Genge – vice-captain 2. Jamie George 3. Dan Cole 4. Maro Itoje 5. Ollie Chessum 6. Courtney Lawes – captain 7. Tom Curry 8. Ben Earl

Replacements: 16. Theo Dan 17. Joe Marler 18. Will Stuart 19. George Martin 20. Lewis Ludlam 21. Danny Care 22. Marcus Smith 23. Ollie Lawrence 

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