Amid the desolation and controversy generated after England’s agonising defeat to South Africa in the World Cup semi-final last weekend, it has been easy to forget that, for the losers, there is another game to play (Tom Ward writes).
Whether you’re a fan of the third-place play-off or not, it’s here, England are in it and it’s an international Test match that is very much worth winning.
Perhaps that’s a message more necessary for fans this week than for Steve Borthwick’s squad, who appear to have been in lockdown mode since last week’s defeat as they insulate from the mushrooming furore of the Tom Curry/Bongi Mbonambi situation.
“I think this game is important, there are many reasons that I want players playing the game,” Borthwick said after the semi-final.
“We have more players 25 and under than any other team in the semi-finals and we have some very good young players who will benefit from the experience. I want them playing in big games at World Cups.”
If that statement is anything to go by, changes could well be afoot. Theo Dan, David Ribbans and Jack Walker are names that come to mind in the pack, while Henry Arundell and Ollie Lawrence appeared primed for starting berths.
There will also be the chance for more experienced names, who have not featured as regular starters throughout the tournament, to get some game time. With that in mind, Max Malins, Lewis Ludlam and Sam Underhill will surely all be involved.
This match will also represent a final departure from the international game for some. For Courtney Lawes that is a certainty and while the likes of Ben Youngs, Dan Cole and Joe Marler will likely be turning out for their clubs come Christmas, their future with England appears to be coming to an end.
Stay tuned for full coverage and live reaction from Borthwick’s team announcement, with the side set to be revealed at 12.30.