England vs Argentina – Rugby World Cup LIVE: Alex Mitchell handed a surprise start for Steve Borthwick’s side following difficult tournament preparations

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Follow Mail Sport’s live blog for all the latest as England face Argentina in their opening game of the Rugby World Cup, hoping to put their difficult preparations behind them.

The view at the Stade Velodrome via Mail Sport’s Chris Foy

As you can see, one of the entrances to the Stade Velodrome is packed with just half an hour to go to kick-off.

Courtney Lawes on the privilege of captaining his country

Courtney Lawes has spoken about the honour of captaining England as he leads them out in what is his fourth World Cup campaign.

‘It’s huge for me, a big honour. I just want to do my best for the boys and the people at home supporting us. It’s a really exciting weekend. We’ve had a really good training week and we’re looking forward to getting stuck in.

We have to be defensively and physically sound. We have to match [Argentina] up front first and foremost. And we have a game plan put in place which will suit our strengths and give us plenty of options.

There’s definitely frustration. We feel it as much as anybody. We’re in the thick of it. We’re doing everything we can to make sure come this weekend we are firing on all cylinders.’

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 8: Courtney Lawes of England passes the ball during the England rugby squad captain's run ahead of their Rugby World Cup France 2023 match against Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 8, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Gaspafotos/MB Media/Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick looks on… and Argentina fans cause more mayhem!

Sir Clive Woodward: Argentina are favourites

Mail Sport columnist and former World Cup winner Sir Clive Woodward has just told ITV Sport: ‘I think it’d be an upset if we win tonight.’

Argentina present a unique challenge as one of the most fiery teams in rugby and won at Twickenham last year 30-29. don’t take them lightly.

Maro Itoje’s words of encouragement

Maro Itoje has issued some defiant words ahead of tonight’s clash.

Steve Borthwick has lost six of his first nine games in charge of England but Itoje, who starts in the second row tonight, insists that England know their quality.

‘We know who we are, we know the type of players we have, we know the quality of coaches we have,’ he said.

‘We haven’t played as well as we can, but we know the potential of this group, you know the attitude of the players and the coaches and it can only fill you with confidence.

‘We want to be part of something special and that starts this weekend.

‘We’ve seen how England get behind their national teams and we want to produce rugby that will get the country behind us.’

LE TOUQUET-PARIS-PLAGE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 02: Maro Itoje of England poses for a portrait during the England Rugby World Cup 2023 Squad photocall on September 02, 2023 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France. (Photo by Julian Finney-World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

England warming up

Finally they’re on the turf. The World Cup opener for England is less than an hour away! Four years we’ve waited, and now you can almost taste it.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: Jamie George of England prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: Marcus Smith of England prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: Alex Mitchell and Tom Curry of England speak prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Argentina’s line-up

Now for a look at Argentina’s starting XV for this clash.

Julian Montoya is the headline name and captain in the front row, also skippering Leicester Tigers. He’s powerful and has been named in the Gallagher Premiership team of the season twice in a row.

Marcos Kremer is back after a ban. He turns out for Clermont in the club season and has 57 Argentina caps to his name.

Inside England’s SHAMBOLIC Rugby World Cup build-up

It’s no secret that England World Cup build-up has been rocked by a pile-on of issues. Once a slick operation, England go into this World Cup with pessimistic talk surrounding them.

There have been bans, injuries, a first-ever loss to Fiji, and so much more. For a team that reached the final under Eddie Jones in 2019, anything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong, writes Kieran Lynch.

Check out Mail Sport’s Rugby page elsewhere on our website to read his report.

A look in the changing rooms

This is what the centre of operations ahead of kick-off for each team tonight.

In the middle image, you can see the jerseys of Manu Tuilagi, who starts at inside centre; George Ford, who is at fly-half; and Alex Mitchell at No 6.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: A general view of the match shirts inside the England dressing room prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Michael Steele - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: A general view of the match shirts of Manu Tuilagi, George Ford and Alex Mitchell of England inside the England dressing room prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Michael Steele - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: A general view of the match shirts of Argentina in the Argentina dressing room prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Michael Steele - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Argentine fever hits Marseille

England have a good record against Argentina, having won 19 of 25 encounters, but try telling these South American fans that the history books matter.

They’ve turned out in full force and Argentine regalia for this one. One thing is for sure: whatever happens on the field, there is going to be a firecracker of an atmosphere in the Stade Velodrome tonight.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: Argentina fans gather outside the stadium prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: An Argentina fan poses for a photo prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: An Argentina fan arrives at the stadium prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

England line-up talking points

Steve Borthwick has the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders and will know that his team selection will set the tone for the rest of the tournament.

Alex Mitchell is handed a surprise start at No 9 after a whirlwind few weeks. The Northampton Saints man wasn’t even included in Borthwick’s initial squad for the tournament, but the withdrawal of Jack Van Poortvliet led to his inclusion and now he starts ahead of Danny Care and Ben Youngs for his seventh cap.

Courtney Lawes captains the team from No 6 in the absence of Owen Farrell, having picked up his 100th cap against Fiji.

Jonny May is also on the wing – he also wasn’t included in the original 33-man squad.

England's Alex Mitchell during a press conference at the Stade de Marseille, Marseille. Picture date: Friday September 8, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story RUGBYU World Cup England. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2023 - England Training - Orange Velodrome, Marseille, France - September 8, 2023 England's Courtney Lawes during training REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
LE TOUQUET-PARIS-PLAGE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 02: Jonny May of England poses for a portrait during the England Rugby World Cup 2023 Squad photocall on September 02, 2023 in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France. (Photo by Julian Finney-World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

England’s line-up

Here is England’s line-up for their World Cup opener.

Welcome to Mail Sport’s live blog of England vs Argentina

Good evening and welcome to Mail Sport’s live blog as England commence their Rugby World Cup campaign against Argentina.

The Stade Velodrome in Marseille, an absolute cauldron of a venue, will play host to tonight’s occasion as Steve Borthwick’s men look to put their recent woes behind them.

Kick-off is at 8pm and here at Mail Sport we’ll be bringing you all the build-up, live action, and reaction.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 09: A general view inside the stadium prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on September 09, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)



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