Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum are desperate to remain together in the second row against Chile on Saturday to avoid getting “flogged” by England’s head of strength and conditioning Aled Walters.
England head coach Steve Borthwick made only two enforced changes in the second pool match against Japan but, with a six-day turnaround, is expected to rotate his squad against Chile.
Scrum coach Tom Harrison confirmed that they have a clean bill of health after full back Freddie Steward recovered from a dead leg against Japan while Owen Farrell is free to play again after completing his suspension.
Yet with competition for places so fierce heading towards the final pool game against Samoa and a potential quarter-final on the horizon, no one is willing to step aside, particularly as those outside the matchday squad are subject to extra fitness sessions with Walters.
“I always want to play,” Itoje said. “You can’t take these moments for granted, you never know when the last time is that you’re going to play for England. I want to get as many caps as possible so I definitely would want to play.
“Steve has the big plan and he has to look after the whole squad, not just individuals. He is the final decision maker.”
“To be honest when you’re not playing you do way more fitness - the guys who haven’t been in the squad have been getting flogged - so that’s motivation enough to play. If I’m not playing I’ll be getting flogged. I’d much rather play because I don’t want to get flogged!”
Read more on what England’s players have to say about selection ahead of the game.
What is it?
England face Chile in their third Pool D match at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The match will take place in Lille and will be the first of the tournament in which Owen Farrell is eligible to play, following the end of his four-game suspension for a high tackle on Wales’s Taine Basham.
England enjoyed a triumphant success over Argentina in their World Cup opener and then ‘won ugly’ against Japan in Nice on Sunday. Their final match will be against Samoa, also in Lille, on October 7.
When is it?
England v Chile takes place on Saturday, September 23 with the match kicking off at 4.45pm BST, 5.45pm local time.
Where is it?
Stade Pierre-Mauroy is the home of French Ligue 1 football team Lille OSC. The stadium was renamed in 2013, following the death of the former Mayor of Lille and former Prime Minister of France Pierre Mauroy.
With a capacity of just over 50,000, Stade Pierre-Mauroy is the one of the largest stadiums in France. Built in 2012, the stadium features a retractable roof and has solar panels and two turbines, which provide an electricity supply.
The stadium will host five pool-stage matches, including two of England’s, and will also be the venue for the handball and basketball tournaments in the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Who is the referee?
South African Jaco Peyper will take charge of this one. Peyper is one of only two remaining referees from the 2019 knockout stages, when he took charge of Wales’s one-point victory over France in the quarter-finals.
No complacency for England, says Chessum
For Ollie Chessum, who suffered an ankle injury in March that kept him out for actions for five months, there is an extra sense of desperation to keep his place for the game against Chile.
“You want to hold your hand up to play at every opportunity possible,” Chessum said. “I have not played a lot of rugby at all in the last six months so I want to keep playing. It is not up to me, it is up to the coaches so I will hold my hand up in training this week and it is up to them, the selection process.”
Chessum has also promised that England will not “sleepwalk” into this match after the emerging nations bloodied the noses of the big beasts at the World Cup.
Fiji, who beat England in the final warm-up game, have already claimed the scalp of Australia in the first upset of the tournament on Sunday with a 22-15 victory. They also came within just a dropped pass of also turning over Wales who were run close by Portugal while Uruguay greatly troubled hosts France in Lille last week.
England also made hard work of putting away Japan for the first hour before cutting loose in the final quarter. While bookmakers are giving Chile a 50-point headstart, Chessum says that there will no complacency within the England camp.
“Absolutely not, if you go into games, sleepwalk into games or sleepwalk into anything in this World Cup you will get caught out and exposed,” Chessum said. “You have seen from the games in the weeks there is not a big disparity between the teams, the tier two nations have taken some of the best teams right to the wire.”
How to watch on TV
ITV has exclusive broadcast rights to show the Rugby World Cup in the UK. This match will be on ITV1.
Radio commentary will be available only on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service. The BBC says there will be a “bespoke output” in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
How do I get tickets?
To find out if tickets are still available, click through to the tournament’s official ticketing website.
What is the recent history between the teams?
England have never played Chile in a men’s full rugby international.
What are England’s other pool matches?
Saturday, Sept 9 - England 27 Argentina 10
Sunday, Sept 17 - England 34 Japan 12
Saturday, Oct 7 - England v Samoa, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 4.45pm
Who is in the England squad?
Steve Borthwick will name his team to take on Chile later this week.
What are England saying?
Lewis Ludlam has urged booing fans to keep the faith after admitting that England could have shown more enterprise in their 34-12 win over Japan.
Supporters jeered as England repeatedly opted to kick, before staging a thrilling all-out assault on Japan that was directed by George Ford and replacement full-back Marcus Smith.
The game plan was to grind down unorthodox opponents and then take them apart. It worked, but for lengthy periods it was also a hard watch that clearly alienated some fans.
When asked for his message to supporters, Ludlam said: “I just say stick with us.
“We are a team that is learning every week and there are probably opportunities in there when we could have run that ball.
“However, it was hard to see how greasy that ball was. It was humid in that stadium and a couple of times we tried to play and ended up straight back on our try line.
“George Ford is very good at putting us in the right areas so that we have better opportunities to attack farther up the pitch. It’s hard to get the fans excited about that and we understand, but we’re building.
“That was probably not the performance we wanted but we are happy to get the win. We want to be a better team next weekend and play in the right areas of the pitch.”
What should we expect from Chile?
It has been a remarkable rise for Chile, who make their debut in the World Cup, after a two-leg qualifying victory over the United States.
They have, somewhat predictably, lost their opening two Pool D matches, 42-12 against Japan, and 43-10 versus Samoa, but they showed great spirit in both games and may well produce some unsettling moments for England.