England v Argentina: World Cup pride gives England ‘different bite’, says Danny Care

Captain Owen Farrell and his England squad made friends with the locals at the welcome ceremony in Le Touquet on Saturday

Rugby World Cup: Pool D – England v Argentina

Venue: Stade de Marseille Date: Saturday, 9 September Kick-off: 20:00 BST

Coverage: Listen to live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and online; follow text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Set just 30 miles south of Calais, Le Touquet is a gem of northern France.

Famous for its golf and sports, the friendly seaside town has provided a welcome sanctuary for England’s players and management after the turbulence of their build-up.

“We’ve found a town in France that really likes English people, which is quite unique,” joked head coach Steve Borthwick.

The players and management have presented a happy and relaxed front since coming here. To a man they have spoken about their pride and excitement of being at the Rugby World Cup.

But rarely, if ever, has an England team arrived at the global showpiece with such little form and momentum.

Injuries, suspensions, and three chastening warm-up defeats have seen England written off before a ball is kicked – prematurely, according to a defiant Borthwick.

Meanwhile, captain Owen Farrell – one of those banned for the start of the tournament – insists it can all click just in time.

“I have massive confidence in the group,” he said on Monday.

“I know what the group is capable of. I know it is something that can turn pretty quickly.”

England scrum-half Danny Care

Danny Care has won 90 England caps but has only played one World Cup match

Another man in an upbeat mood is veteran scrum-half Danny Care, determined to relish the whole experience after a chequered World Cup history. Even an ill-fitting suit at the welcome ceremony has not dampened Care’s enthusiasm.

“It’s a bit of a pinch-me moment when we landed here in Le Touquet,” Care reflected on the Rugby Union Daily podcast.

“To actually be out here, go to the ceremony, get your cap, it all feels very real now.

“But I feel I may have picked up the wrong DC’s jacket. I think it was Dan Cole’s.”

With their training base backing on to a racquets club, Care has caught the padel tennis bug, and has claimed to have already mastered the game, in contrast to lock Ollie Chessum.

Meanwhile, a newly formed tradition has seen every England player buy gifts for the remaining 32 in the squad, with Marcus Smith gaining the highest level of approval with his choice of customised golf clubs.

“It’s something Ben Youngs brought in in 2019, he thought it would be great for squad morale,” Care explained.

“But boy did some of them deliver. Marcus Smith came in with 60 degrees Mizuno wedges, personalised with your initials and the England rose on it. I think that had to be the best.

“Ben Youngs brought 32 travel adaptors, which was practical, but you may have expected more from England’s most-capped men’s player of all time.

“A World Cup is unique and special, and you have to make some memories and embrace the culture and we are going to get out there and do that.

“But obviously all the focus is on the training park and getting it right.”

Following the humbling defeat by Fiji at Twickenham, a number of “open and honest conversations” have taken place – according to Farrell – with Care adding the players “have grabbed hold” of responsibility over the past few days.

“One of the things Steve wants to impress is to enjoy it. It should be the most enjoyable thing in the world,” Care added.

“That’s what we are trying to create, but it doesn’t just happen.

“So much stuff has been thrown at us, but a lot of the time us as players haven’t been good enough.

“We all feel accountable and we are working as hard as we can to get it right.

“I’d just urge the fans to trust us and stick with us. We want the fans on our side and we know there is a lot of noise about this team at the minute.

“We know we need to play better and hopefully we will do that on Saturday.”

While pretty much every single one of Borthwick’s best-laid plans have gone to waste in the build-up so far, victory over the Pumas can change everything.

As far back as June, the England boss said it was all about peaking for their tournament opener in Marseille. That is now just days away.

And after weeks of injury setbacks, the management is reporting a clean bill of health, a rare bit of positive news and a sign that – perhaps – the tide could be about to change.

“We have been building towards 9 September and being ready for 9 September, and that has not changed,” said Borthwick.

“This is it, this is the big dance,” added Care. “It might be the biggest game I’ll ever play in.

“There is a different feel about the boys this week, there is a different bite to training and intensity.

“We can’t wait to rip in.”

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