Topsy Ojo backs Steve Borthwick’s England to come good at World Cup

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Topsy Ojo has backed under-pressure England head coach Steve Borthwick to turn his side’s poor form around at the World Cup in France.

England have won just two of their nine fixtures in 2023 and will look to ignite their World Cup bid in their crucial opening Pool D fixture against Argentina on Saturday.

Former London Irish and England player Ojo acknowledged Borthwick’s side have not won enough games of late but insists they have the tools to create an upturn in form.

“There’s definitely a lot of pressure on him (Borthwick) at the minute,” Ojo told the PA news agency. “He’ll know that he’s not won enough games and the pressure comes down to how well this World Cup goes for him.

“If England don’t get out of the group then the pressure will increase tenfold and people will ask questions. I do (have faith in Borthwick and England), especially when I look at what he’s done as a coach and the playing group.


“I think the players will turn up and, having watched them every week in the Premiership, I know what they’re capable of.

“You can see what’s starting to gel on the pitch and as a group under Steve and as they get used to playing with each other over a long period of time, they’ll become more efficient, accurate and will start to take more of what they are creating”.

The former winger earmarked the number eight position as pivotal and called for improved defensive performances after England shipped 53 points to France in March and lost 30-22 to Fiji in their final warm-up game last month.

The ITV pundit highlighted the responsibility of Ben Earl and Lewis Ludlam in England’s opener as Steve Borthwick will be without Billy Vunipola, who picked up a suspension in England’s 29-10 defeat to Ireland in August.

“I think it will be Ben Earl initially or maybe Lewis Ludlam but whoever plays as eight has a huge responsibility in this team,” Ojo added.

“The power and physicality game in rugby is huge and you need your ball carriers to carry 10-15 times a game and make three to five metres every time to put your team on the front foot and gain momentum.

“If England can do that then they have the players and capability to run away with things but if they don’t get parity or dominance in that area then it could be a long day for them.”

“Defensively they need to be doing way better, they’re shipping far too many points and they’ll know that.

“If they are able to defend well and efficiently by ideally turning the ball over early then the momentum they’ll get from that will mean they can go and score points.”


The 38-year-old hailed England’s travelling supporters who will be eager to see them lift their first World Cup since 2003.

“It’s going to be great to see them,” he said. “We’ll see support in numbers as the energy builds and I think England are very well supported and they are lucky in that regard.”

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