Wales say that fly-half talisman Dan Biggar is fit for the Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash against Argentina on Saturday.

Biggar went off after just 12 minutes of Wales’ record 40-6 win against Australia during an unbeaten march through Pool C.

He suffered a pectoral muscle strain and was an unused replacement for the Georgia game last weekend, having been rushed on to the bench when Sam Costelow was summoned to start instead of an injured Gareth Anscombe.

When asked if Biggar was fit to face the Pumas in Marseille, Wales assistant coach Jonathan Thomas said: “Yes.”

There is also encouraging news about Anscombe and full-back Liam Williams.

Anscombe withdrew 45 minutes before kick-off against Georgia due to a groin problem, while Williams was on crutches after taking a blow to his knee.

Those issues came on top of number eight Taulupe Faletau breaking his arm and being ruled out of the tournament remainder.

“At this stage, it is looking positive,” Thomas said, of Anscombe and Williams. “Every day it will evolve. It is probably not as bad as first feared.

“The crutches thing was to try and offload any pressure. It doesn’t mean he (Williams) has done anything severe. He was jogging about today with the medics.

“I saw him (Anscombe) jogging around on the pitch, along with Liam today.

“The first 48 hours after you have a knock is very important in terms of assessing it. With both Liam and Gareth, it is pretty positive.

“That is not me committing to saying they are definitely going to be available. It is an ongoing thing. They were both running around today with the medics, and they will try to progress that each day.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is due to name his starting line-up on Thursday, with Aaron Wainwright expected to move from blindside flanker as Faletau’s replacement.

That could then mean captain Jac Morgan wearing the number six shirt and Tommy Reffell starting at openside, although Dan Lydiate and Christ Tshiunza could also be back-row options.

Thomas added: “There was definitely a little bit of a cloud over the victory (against Georgia) because of what happened to Taulupe.

“We have been together for a long time as a whole group, and you build relationships and you become a little bit like a family. When one of your brothers has to leave, it is tough.

“It is what it is. You have got to deal with it and you have got to move on. That is sport and the harsh reality of it.”

Wales face Argentina for the first time in a World Cup game since 1999, and they will start as favourites after collecting 19 points from a possible 20 in their group.

Argentina, in contrast, lost to 14-man England and were unconvincing against Samoa, before clinching qualification by beating Japan.

“For us as a collective, our goal from day one has been to get to knockout rugby,” Thomas said.

“We have achieved that, but we are not satisfied with just getting to the quarter-finals.

“When you get to this stage, any team on their day can beat anyone. There are quality teams and quality players in the last eight.

“I thought they (Argentina) looked more cohesive in their last game against Japan in terms of their attack.

“If you win your first game in the Six Nations, momentum is huge, and it is the same with the World Cup. Every team at this stage will feel confident and feel they have momentum on their side.”

Wales were left to count the cost of their Rugby World Cup victory over Georgia after number eight Taulupe Faletau suffered a broken arm and two other players were also injured.

Faletau, who has won more than 100 caps, will take no further part in the tournament as Wales build towards a quarter-final against probably Argentina or Japan in Marseille next weekend.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said no decision had yet been made on a replacement for Faletau, although flanker Aaron Wainwright is an option to move across the back-row.

Fly-half Gareth Anscombe, meanwhile, withdrew 45 minutes before kick-off in Nantes following a groin problem suffered during the warm-up.

And full-back Liam Williams was on crutches after Gatland said he took a blow to his knee, but Wales are hopeful he will be fit for the quarter-final, with Wales ending their Pool C campaign as group winners with four successive victories following a 43-19 triumph.

“Toby (Faletau) has broken his arm so he will be out,” Gatland said.

“We are just going to assess Gareth over the next 72 hours. He has pulled his groin very high up.

“Talking to the medics, he has got a bit of power still in his leg which is a positive. It means he has not pulled it off the bone.

“We will probably know in the next 48-72 hours what we need to do with him. Whether we’ve got (time) for him to recover or replace him directly.

“We have got to look at a replacement for Faletau, whether that is directly as a loose-forward replacement or whether we look at another position.

“We’ve got a few sore players, particularly in the backs, after today’s game.

“If you do see Liam Williams on crutches, it is not that he has done anything significantly bad.

“He got a whack on the knee, and the medics, from a comfort perspective, have put him on crutches to save him walking around a bit.

“He has got a knock and probably won’t take a huge part in training in the early part of next week, but hopefully he will be fit for the quarter-final.”

Lionel Messi's World Cup success with Argentina should be enough to win him the upcoming Ballon d'Or, says former England striker Jermain Defoe.

Messi finally achieved World Cup glory with La Albiceleste in Qatar last year as Argentina beat France on penalties in the final to win international football's top prize for a third time and the first since 1986.

Messi won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player, finishing with seven goals and three assists from seven appearances, playing every single minute of Argentina's campaign to lead them to silverware.

Defoe believes Messi's talismanic displays in Qatar make him the rightful winner of the upcoming Ballon d'Or, having already claimed the coveted award seven times before, two more than any other player has managed.

Speaking to Stats Perform at the Legends of Football event, in aid of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, Defoe said: "Messi won a World Cup, so it's difficult to see past that.

"I think what he's done for the game – him and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, and other players as well – but because he's won a World Cup, and not only winning the World Cup but the way he performed in the tournament.

"Because the pressure was on, and it's probably his last, so to do that, go out the way he has, in terms of World Cups – I think you just have to give it to him."

 

Messi's World Cup heroics cap glittering career

Many felt Messi needed to win the World Cup to confirm his place as the best football player of all time, and he responded with a magnificent campaign in Qatar before Argentina ultimately took the crown.

Messi scored twice in the final, finishing just one goal behind Golden Boot winner Kylian Mbappe, who netted a hat-trick on the losing side as his side finished runners-up.

His extraordinary tournament saw him score in the group stage, round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final and final, the first player to ever achieve that feat at a World Cup, while his 26 appearances at the tournament is also a record, after he surpassed Lothar Matthaus.

Messi's goals made him the first ever South American player to score in both the World Cup and Champions League final, and he joined his idol Diego Maradona as the only two players to score five or more goals and create 20 or more chances in a single World Cup tournament.

 

The now-Inter Miami forward became the first player to win the Golden Ball at two World Cup editions, while his 26 goals for Argentina at major tournaments is the most of any South American player in history.

Whether all that will be enough for Messi to win the Ballon d'Or will be revealed on October 30 at a ceremony in Paris, with the likes of Manchester City's Erling Haaland and Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior expected to challenge.

Wales are in talks to play world champions Argentina.

Lionel Messi and company have been lined up as potential opponents for the Dragons with Wales keen to play Argentina in Cardiff or Patagonia, where thousands of Welsh emigrants settled in the 19th century.

“There is an ongoing discussion between us and them,” Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney said about a possible friendly between the two nations.

“We spoke to them in the last few days about playing in Cardiff.

“I met the Argentinian ambassador when he was in Cardiff talking to the Welsh Government.

“I used the opportunity to talk to him about the opportunity for Wales to go down to play in Argentina. He was excited by the idea, although he obviously he doesn’t decide who plays who.”

Wales have played only once at Cardiff’s 74,500-capacity Principality Stadium since 2011 – a friendly against former European and world champions Spain in October 2018 – and many Dragons’ fans dislike the idea of playing at the home of Welsh rugby.

But Wales will return to Principality Stadium should UK and Ireland win their bid to host Euro 2028 in Switzerland next month – and the Dragons qualify for the tournament.

The Principality Stadium is among 10 venues to be used across five nations should the UK and Ireland bid be successful.

Mooney said: “You’d have to assume we’d need to play some matches there before the competition to get spectators and players used to it.

“We haven’t thought that much about it, but what I can say is that we know who we’d like to play if we had to – World Cup winners Argentina.

“We may not be at the very top of their queue, but if you look at Patagonia and the relationship between the two countries it would be great. We’d love to do it.

“There is a connection and history between us and Argentina because of the Patagonian links and the Welsh people who settled there.

“I could feel from the Argentine ambassador that warmth they have behind Wales and I’d love to see Lionel Messi playing in Cardiff.”

Patagonia is at the southern end of Argentina – around 1,000 miles from the capital Buenos Aires – and in 2006 the Wales rugby team played at Puerto Madryn, a city founded by Welsh settlers in 1865.

Wales and Argentina have only met twice before, with their last fixture being a 2002 friendly at the Principality Stadium when Craig Bellamy scored in a 1-1 draw against the South Americans.

Courtney Lawes insists England have forged an identity based on self-sacrifice as the personalities of the World Cup heavyweights begin to emerge.

England have crushed Argentina, Japan and Chile to claim a quarter-final place as Pool D winners with a match to spare and their procession through the group phase will be completed against Samoa on Saturday.

Expectation is rising, even allowing for the fact they have been gifted the easiest route into the knockout phase, but the likes of Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand have been making greater waves.

After the All Blacks’ 14-try rout of Italy on Friday, head coach Ian Foster made a pointed reference to the grinding nature of Ireland’s seismic victory over the Springboks.

“If you look at the South Africa-Ireland game, it was a different game of rugby,” Foster said.

“The ball was in play for 27 minutes throughout the whole game. It was a very stop-start game, very physical, very combative.

“You saw a different spectacle from us and at some point the world has got to decide which game it would rather watch.”

Lawes sees room for all playing styles and is satisfied with the traits developed by Steve Borthwick’s side.

“Our way is the England way. Doing it our way is doing it for each other,” the Northampton back row said.

“I like that it’s now really obvious what is every team’s DNA and what they’re trying to do. All the top teams have got really different genetics as a team, if you will – a team strategy.

“It’ll be interesting when they play each other how that is going to play off. I think that’s really good for us as players to see and be a part of.

“We’re a really strong defensive team. That’s our backbone. We’ve conceded one try in three games. We’re an aerial, kicking team and are very good at getting the ball back.

“We’re looking to build an attack off that, and hopefully by the time we get later on in the tournament that is where we want to be, and we will show a bit of a different side to us.

“Especially at the 2019 World Cup and this time, in terms of a team of players, we are so much more selfless.

“We want to play, we want to go out there and put our bodies on the line for each other and that is what really makes a difference when it hits the fan and you are under the cosh.

“You have got to want to get into it for each other or you get found out pretty quickly.

“We know what works, we want everybody to buy in, we do this for each other, not for ourselves.

“We hit a ruck and forego the glory so we can get the ball and someone else can score.

“Those are the things we pride ourselves on as a team and what we want to carry on into the future as well.”

Jonathan Thomas says that Wales have hit “reset” after four days off as they set about trying to make a memorable Rugby World Cup campaign into something unforgettable.

Wales’ World Cup squad returned to the training pitch on Thursday with a public session watched by more than 1,000 people at Stade de Porchefontaine in Versailles.

Players and coaches were given time off to spend with their families after last weekend’s record 40-6 win against Australia that secured quarter-final status for the fourth successive World Cup campaign.

But minds have now switched to next weekend’s final Pool C appointment with Georgia – then a quarter-final against Argentina or Japan.

“Professional sport can be relentless,” Wales assistant coach Thomas said.

“Winning that Australia game was a huge moment for us in terms of qualifying, and having those days off was good to have that feel-good factor heading into time off.

“Professional sport is about being humble and hitting reset. For me, confidence comes from preparation and the work you do in the week.

“You can’t look back and say we are confident because of that victory. Confidence comes from preparation and the hard work.

“We need to hit reset, as the boys have done today. We’ve got a tough game next week, and we will be completely focused on that.

“The amazing thing I’ve seen with this squad is you have that edge in training, but as soon as they walk off the training field, there’s laughing, joking and they are taking the mick out of each other for what has just happened in the session.

“Getting that balance of a competitive edge and having really close relationships off the field is very difficult to strike.

“That is one of the real highlights of this campaign, going back 14 weeks since we came in for mini-camps. That chemistry is really powerful, and the balance between the edge and the family side of things.”

Thomas, meanwhile, has no doubt that an ability to strike the right balance comes from the top with the example set by head coach Warren Gatland.

“I played under Gats, and I take my hat off to him,” he added.

“He is probably one of the best I have come across in terms of being able to drive the players hard. He is very open and honest with them, with a no-nonsense attitude. The expectations are really clear.

“But he has also got this nurturing, kind side to him which is all about family and if players need to go home or need help.

“It’s quite a remarkable thing to have both abilities in your character. It all starts with him, and everything flows downstream.

“It flows through the coaching staff and the players, and eventually you end up with quite a content playing group. One, because they are fit and they’ve worked hard, but they are also happy because their families are happy.”

Local schoolchildren turned out in their hundreds to watch the Wales squad put through their paces, with players signing autographs and posing for pictures afterwards.

“Our whole experience in Versailles has been awesome,” Thomas said.

“Obviously, it’s a beautiful place, first and foremost, but we are here to train and train hard. The facilities have been great.

“The people have been incredible, really, and none more so than today. We really appreciate it. It has made a massive difference to us, how welcome we’ve been made to feel since being here.”

Tom Curry has been pushing himself through a punishing training regime to ensure he is ready to face Samoa in England’s final World Cup group match.

Curry has played less than three minutes of the tournament in France after being sent off in the opener for a dangerous tackle against Argentina, resulting in a two-match suspension.

It continued his challenging start to the Steve Borthwick era, having missed the entire Six Nations and build-up campaign to the World Cup because of injury.

Now poised to make his comeback against Samoa on October 7, the squad’s most influential player in defence has been defying the instructions of England’s fitness guru Aled Walters to perfect his conditioning.

“Tom is a unique player in that I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone so fit, or so willing to work hard and put himself through pain,” scrum coach Tom Harrison said.

“He just seems to be able to enjoy it and keep going. There was a conditioning session the other day where he finished his reps and Aled Walters was shouting at him, ‘Get out, get out’. And he just carried on running.

“He just stayed in and carried on running. And when he did finally decide it was time for time for him to get out, he left the drill and Ellis Genge started hammering him for leaving the drill! And you just saw him getting so angry about it!

“He is in phenomenal shape. He has been brilliant. Unfortunately he was suspended, but he was brilliant by not going, ‘Oh I’m suspended for these two games’. Instead he went, ‘How can I help England win?’.

“And the work he was doing to help make training hard and difficult for the guys playing, and also the work he was doing with the back rows, to add his experience and his knowledge to our team meetings has been exceptional.”

 Eight-time Caribbean Cup champions Trinidad and Tobago have surged inside the top 100 on the FIFA World Rankings list for the first time in almost five years following recent wins over El Salvador and Curacao.

The Soca Warriors – in the latest list published Thursday – climbed four places up to 98th from 102, a spot they held in the last rankings in July. They were last inside the FIFA top 100 at 92nd in December 2018. Based on their world position, the twin island republic remains the fourth highest rated in Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz jumped two places up the FIFA list to 56th and remain number in CFU ahead of Haiti at 87th world ranked and Curacao (90th). Antigua and Barbuda complete the CFU’s top five at 137th.

In the only change to the CFU’s top 10, Guyana have climbed into 10th position with a three place move to 165th in the world, as Barbados – the result of Nations League losses to Montserrat and Nicaragua – slipped out of the top 10. The fell six places on the world list from 166th to 172nd.

World champions Argentina strengthened their grip at the summit of the world rankings. The Argentines, who dethroned Brazil at the top in April, defeated Ecuador and Bolivia in their 2026 World Cup qualifiers earlier this month to improve their status.

Despite losing to Germany in a friendly last week, France retained second place, followed by Brazil (third), England (fourth) and Belgium (fifth).

Kevin Sinfield insists England do not have a discipline problem as they look to draw a line under their latest red-card setback that resulted in a two-match ban for Tom Curry.

England did not contest Curry’s dismissal for a dangerous tackle in Saturday’s 14-man demolition of Argentina when the Sale openside appeared before a brief virtual hearing on Tuesday.

After the disruption caused to their World Cup preparations by the Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola incidents last month, England are keen to focus all their attention on Sunday’s Pool D showdown with Japan.

And while continuing to hone their tackle technique in training, defence coach Sinfield is satisfied there is no deep-rooted problem.

“Discipline-wise, we gave away seven penalties at the weekend,” Sinfield said.

“I don’t think we’ve got a discipline problem, I thought it was really unfortunate what happened at the weekend. It’s been different from the other challenges that have taken place.

“We continue to work on our tackle skill – and work incredibly hard. The guys have bought into it and have done so for some time, but they’re human and they make mistakes. We’ve got to understand that.

“And unfortunately we’ve had to deal with four red cards in six games. We’re getting pretty good at defending with 14 men, but we want to have our full complement on the field for as long as possible at all times.

“So we hope to improve that area, but it’s tricky to pinpoint exactly what that is.

“We’ll spend time with Tom and put him through tackle school and work incredibly hard with him again. We’ll get him right for a couple of weeks’ time.”

Observers have been left scratching their heads by the inconsistent refereeing evident during the opening round of World Cup matches.

While Curry was given his marching orders for his third-minute clash of heads with Juan Cruz Mallia, similar incidents involving players from South Africa and Chile went unpunished.

On this occasion England could be justified for nursing a sense of grievance at the way the cards have fallen against them and Sinfield admits the disparity between decisions makes a player’s job harder.

“I think it makes life really difficult for the players, first and foremost, and that’s what we’re all here for,” Sinfield said.

“We all want to see the players out on the field, we want to see the best players in the world go head to head. We’ve just got to be careful.

“We control what we can control. We’re in full support of the rules and regulations. We try and train as hard as we can, but within the laws of the game and we’ll continued to do that.”

England name their team to face Japan on Friday night and Sinfield insists there will be no room for sentimentality when making any tight calls.

“At the top of the list is to win the game to we pick the team that we think gives us the best chance of winning,” Sinfield said.

“Within that there’s always a balance, but we’re in a World Cup and we’re not here to give people game-time, we’re here to win games.

“We’re not here to give Test shirts out because someone deserves one, we’re here because we have to win games.”

Tom Curry will be available for England’s final World Cup group game after receiving a two-match ban for his dangerous tackle against Argentina on Saturday.

Curry was shown a red card that was upgraded from yellow upon review following a clash of heads with Pumas full-back Juan Cruz Mallia in the third minute at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome.

A virtual disciplinary panel gave Curry a three-game suspension that will be reduced to two if he completes World Rugby’s ‘Coaching Intervention Programme’, otherwise known as tackle school.

https://x.com/EnglandRugby/status/1701621167746957521?s=20

It means the Sale openside will be available to face Samoa in Lille on October 7 in England’s final Pool D assignment.

Freddie Steward has revealed that England’s heroic defensive stand against Argentina was inspired by a blast from Kevin Sinfield that was delivered in the wake of their Fiji debacle.

Steve Borthwick’s team opened their World Cup campaign with a 27-10 victory on Saturday despite playing 77 minutes with 14 men after Tom Curry was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle.

It was England’s finest hour since Borthwick took over and it arrived just in time as, until that act of defiance at the Stade Velodrome, concerns were being raised over a defence that had leaked 30 tries in nine Tests.

A conclusive defeat by Fiji at Twickenham a fortnight earlier saw the team reach their lowest ebb – and Steward admits the players deserved the reaction from Sinfield that followed.

“We got a bit of a rocket after that game. There were no complaints about that, it needed to happen,” the Leicester full-back said.

“We had a very thorough review, which we needed, and we reaped the benefits against Argentina. It was necessary for that to happen.

“That’s what makes Kev such a good defence coach – he’s so inspiring. He motivates us so much and he’s the sort of bloke you don’t want to let down.

“That’s testament to him as a bloke. When you go out there, part of it is you do it for him.

“You don’t want to see a guy like that, who puts his heart and soul into us in his work with his defence, feel let down.

“Kev is big on covering each other’s backs. That’s his big thing. He wants a defensive unit that are going to work incredibly hard for each other and, when it goes wrong, cover up for each other.

“Inevitably, you can be as good a defender as you want as a full-back but there are going to be times where it doesn’t go to plan and that is where you get tested. That’s his main ethos.”

Now that England have successfully negotiated their biggest match since the 2019 World Cup final, they have been challenged by Sinfield to ensure their defensive masterclass in Marseille is not a one-off.

“It is just a start. We saw lots of what we had seen in training against Argentina, which is pleasing, but I still feel there is so much in this team – so much improvement, so much growth,” Sinfield said.

“To get the win, given the noise that has been around us and the way the group have really circled the wagons – metaphorically that is – is really pleasing.

“We saw a fight, a spirit and attitude that the people at home supporting us and in the ground would have loved to have seen, and for us as coaches that is particularly pleasing, (but) we know we need to be better.

“Part of our challenge as coaches and part of the challenge of the playing group is to ensure this is not an anomaly, it is the start.”

Curry faces a disciplinary hearing in Paris on Tuesday night when he is expected to learn the length of his ban for the dangerous challenge that led to a clash of heads with Juan Cruz Mallia.

England flanker Tom Curry will learn the length of his suspension for his red card in Saturday’s World Cup win over Argentina on Tuesday.

Curry was sent off in the third minute after a dangerous challenge on Juan Cruz Mallia that resulted in his yellow card being upgraded to red by the bunker review system.

England overcame their adversity to produce an impressive 27-10 victory, with George Ford kicking all 27 points, and next face Japan in Nice on Sunday, but will be without Curry, who will attend a disciplinary hearing in Paris on Tuesday evening.

A statement from World Rugby said: “England’s Tom Curry will appear before an independent Judicial Committee in Paris having received a red card, following a review by the Foul Play Review Officer, in England’s Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool D match against Argentina in Marseille on Saturday, 9 September for an offence contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous tackle).

“At the player’s request, the hearing will take place on Tuesday evening, 12 September.

“The independent Judicial Committee that will hear the matter will be chaired by Adam Casselden SC (Australia), joined by former players John Langford (Australia) and Jamie Corsi (Wales).”

England and Argentina collide in their pivotal World Cup opener at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday with Steve Borthwick’s side in the unusual position of being considered underdogs.

Here the PA news agency examines five talking points heading into the fixture.

Moment of truth

England have been upbeat since their arrival in France, refreshed by the change of scenery that provided a locational reset in the wake of losing five of their last six Tests. The positive talk must now be backed up with action on the pitch but on the basis of recent evidence it is hard to see how the upset will be sprung given so many areas of their game are malfunctioning. The stakes are high – win and England suddenly have a cause to rally around, lose and each remaining game in Pool D brings do or die jeopardy.

Time to deliver

A curious feature of England’s dismal run of just three wins in nine Tests under head coach Borthwick has been the lack of form seen from stars such as Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje, Jamie George and Freddie Steward. If Argentina are to be dispatched, they will need to exit their slump with a bang. On paper, England have a strong starting XV but when so many are underperforming the odds are stacked against them.

Mitchell’s World Cup rollercoaster

Few shards of light emerged out of the gloom of a first defeat by Fiji, but the urgency brought at scrum-half by Alex Mitchell’s full debut was one of them. The Northampton player added zip to the game with speedier service and quicker decision-making and his selection represents a change in thinking from Borthwick, who was expected to pick England’s most capped player Ben Youngs in the number-nine jersey. Mitchell now has a central role in Pool D’s box-office clash despite not being included in the original 41-man training squad, his opportunity arising when Jack van Poortvliet suffered a tournament-ending ankle injury against Wales at Twickenham.

Curry reinforces England

It is a reflection of Tom Curry’s influence on England that he has been propelled straight into the back row despite missing the entire build-up campaign because of damaged ankle ligaments. The squad’s fittest player, his conditioning is never in question and he has experience of making a successful immediate return from injury lay-offs. Regarded as the team’s defensive kingpin, he will provide physical intent and add to England’s breakdown potency in his first appearance since Borthwick replaced Eddie Jones in December. A lot of hopes are being pinned on his return.

Pumas on the prowl

Argentina’s scrum may not be the force of old, but the Pumas have evolved their overall game significantly. Their appetite for forward combat remains undiminished, but is now led by the back rather than front row and their breakdown work has improved as a result. The threequarters possess genuine X-factor with the likes of wings Mateo Carreras and Emiliano Boffelli and they are a cohesive team who will fight until the final minute, playing with a sense of purpose grounded in their fierce national pride. There is much to admire about a team that stormed Twickenham in November and is capable of progressing deeper into the tournament.

England must leave everything out on the pitch as they aim to set the tone for their Rugby World Cup campaign against Argentina on Saturday, though Mike Tindall does not see Steve Borthwick's side as being among the favourites.

The 2023 World Cup gets under way in Paris on Friday, with hosts France taking on New Zealand.

England's campaign starts on Saturday, when they face Argentina in Marseille.

The Red Rose – who were runners-up to South Africa in 2019 – head into the tournament ranked eighth in the world, below Fiji and two places below Argentina.

After a disappointing Six Nations, England will be looking to put things right, and Tindall wants to see a fast start on Saturday.

"The first game against Argentina, they can't leave anything out there," he told Stats Perform. "They're not in a place where they can build something, they have to play [well].

"Imagine that is the World Cup final and then deal with the outcome of it and then rebuild to go into quarter-finals and semi-finals.

"Argentina for England is the World Cup final. 

"They have to play the biggest game in their first outing that should get them into a quarter-final and hopefully in that time you build momentum and they can then go on."

Asked if he fancied England's chances of going all the way, Tindall said: "To be honest, at the moment, I don't see them be the favourites.

"I think I think they can muster a challenge, and we are on the right side of the draw. France, New Zealand, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, they're going to take chunks out of each other, and you don't know what's going to happen injury wise.

"So all you've got to do is try and stay in their strike, manage everything, and ultimately believe and if they can do that, I think they could create a shock. But I don't think that they're going in as anywhere near favourites."

For Tindall, New Zealand or France are the favourites.

He said: "Just from the grouping, I would say the winner coming out of the France, New Zealand group.

"Ireland are number one in the world but the schedule and the draw they're on is terrible. It's terrible for them.

"Even South Africa, who are built for big physical guys, I just think that France and New Zealand have that first big game and then they can sort of relax a little bit.

"Not relax, but they'll be able to manage their players and manage their time. And I feel that the winner could come out with those two."

Steve Borthwick insists England are ready to defy gloomy predictions for their World Cup by delivering a reaction against Argentina in Saturday’s pivotal opener.

The Pumas are in the rare position of being assigned favourites for the main event of Pool D, based on a strong year under the guidance of Michael Cheika and their 30-29 victory at Twickenham in November.

England, meanwhile, have gone into freefall following a run of five defeats in six Tests that no longer makes qualification for the knockout phase appear to be the formality it once was.

Borthwick, who has named Alex Mitchell at scrum-half and Tom Curry at openside for the Marseille showdown, insists the low expectations have sent ripples of indignation through the squad.

“I sense there is a feeling among the players they’ve been written off too early. People have called time on them a bit too early,” England’s head coach said.

“I sense the frustration about what people have been saying about them and right now I have an expectation that they will go and perform with the quality that they have.

“I sense from them that there’s a real determination to go and put their best performances on the park.

“There is a lot of class in this squad. The players have a hell of a lot more to go. They can’t wait to get stuck in on Saturday night.

“Our job is put in a performance that this team is capable of and I know these players are capable of. I know these players are determined to deliver on Saturday night. That’s our job now.”

Borthwick’s theme of an England side ready to exit their slump in time to make an impact at the World Cup was taken up by captain Courtney Lawes, who is leading the team in the absence of the suspended Owen Farrell.

When asked if the players are angry at recent performances, Lawes replied: “There’s definitely a frustration. We feel it as much as anybody.

“We are in the thick of it and we are doing everything we can to make sure, come this weekend, we are firing on all cylinders.

“It’s going to be a hell of a spectacle, so enjoy it. We are going out all guns blazing and we are going to give it everything we have got.

“It’s the first game of the World Cup and we’re going to be well up for it.”

Offering hope to England supporters is the selection of Mitchell ahead of Danny Care and Ben Youngs, with the 26-year-old half-back a more dynamic presence than his veteran rivals for the jersey.

The tempo and energy brought by Mitchell, both through his delivery and with the ball in hand, was one of the few highlights to emerge from a chastening defeat by Fiji last month.

Remarkably he starts in England’s biggest game since the 2019 World Cup final despite being overlooked for their original 33-man squad, with an injury to Jack van Poortvliet offering his route to France.

“Alex was a dangerous running threat against Fiji; everyone knows he is a dangerous running threat,” Borthwick said.

“Immense credit to Mitch in that he was incredibly disappointed not to make the original 33-man squad. An opportunity opened up.

“One of the positives that came out of that Fiji game was his performance. He played well and he’s trained exceptionally well. He’s ready to go.”

Curry’s influence on the team is evident through his promotion to the back row despite having missed the entire build-up campaign because of an ankle injury sustained in training.

“We have got players throughout this 23 who have performed on the biggest of stages and Tom Curry is one of them,” Borthwick said.

“He’s in fantastic physical condition; he missed a period of training but his movement is exceptional.”

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