England vs Chile: Why Steve Borthwick team calls may be the most significant of Rugby World Cup

England vs Chile: Why Steve Borthwick team calls may be the most significant of Rugby World Cup

England can beat Chile with their eyes closed tomorrow, but Steve Borthwick and Co still need a loftier World Cup vision.

The Red Rose side will boast two playmakers from the start in their third Pool D encounter, and this is the blueprint that will now dominate their tournament.

Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith will be the men looking to have a hand in every event by piloting England's tactical ship. Farrell is back from his suspension to captain England in his first match of this World Cup, while Smith will make his first ever start — at any level — at full-back.

In the most crucial matches ahead, England will pair George Ford and Owen Farrell at 10 and 12. The systems they have used so far do not work properly without that pairing, so that is quite obviously the plan.

Tomorrow, though, Smith will shoulder the second-receiver role, as well as high-ball duties in the backfield, albeit with strong support from left wing Max Malins.

Smith has only had three cameo replacement appearances, ever, at 15. That he has impressed in those stints and also in training underscores his virtuoso talent, and England must be praised for the bold selection call.

Smith, understandably, will not dislodge Freddie Steward in the first XV, and the reality is that England have fielded a fringe line-up to take on a side ranked 22nd in the world.

By the end of tomorrow's clash, all 33 of England's squad could have featured in World Cup action. This would be no mean feat for squad morale, and yet head coach Borthwick refuses to acknowledge what actually represents a prudent approach.

All of England's players are good enough to play at a World Cup and there can be no disrespecting Chile in terms of selection. So, there appeared little reason for Borthwick to shut down the notion of the power involved in affording every player in his squad a chance.

Asked if it were important to give everyone a go, Borthwick replied: "I think it's important to get the performance and result we want against Chile. I keep it very simple. Our job is to get the performance and result against Chile. That's it."

Max Malins deserves his chance. (PA)
Max Malins deserves his chance. (PA)

Keep it simple? Well, if that is the extent of England's ambition, then the rest of their World Cup can get in the bin. Simplicity can sit at the core of a rugby attitude as beautiful as it is savage, but that approach also requires a zero-error count and an off-the-scale ferocity. England have progressed in beating Argentina and Japan after a wretched August, but Borthwick's side are still some way off zero errors or Springbok-level physicality. That could still come, but only if the bar is raised again, significantly and without delay.

So, what better way than to create genuine opportunities for the fringe players featuring tomorrow to feel that they can actually break into England's first XV.

England's strongest line-up is very settled, and that is to Borthwick's credit, but Bristol wing Malins must surely be among those to stand a chance of first team selection.

The 26-year-old starred in the Six Nations, but now finds himself behind Elliot Daly and Jonny May in England's wing pecking order.

Malins spoke admirably yesterday of the frustrations of missing out on selection for both the 27-10 win over Argentina and the 34-12 victory over Japan.

England's players have half a day to lick their selection wounds in a typical Test week. The players omitted have hardly had to fight that emotional battle, though, safe in the knowledge they will return for the pivotal matches.

Borthwick can play the public politician all he wants, but a squad that lacks the scope for upward mobility will fester.

England's attack has been more stagnant pond than rapid river so far. It's time to find some fluency — and fast.