SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England are scary with Owen Farrell at No 10, so why not play him there!

Steve Borthwick has picked an England team he thinks will beat Samoa in Lille on Saturday and I am sure they will. But it’s not the one I would have chosen.

To his credit, Borthwick has the courage of his convictions. He doesn’t bow to pressure. As an international head coach, you must never do that.

But Borthwick has too many players playing out of position this weekend.

The England team is good enough to beat Samoa but it isn’t scary or quick enough to worry the best sides. It is good enough to win this weekend and probably get the better of Fiji in the quarter-finals too. But the four best teams at this World Cup — Ireland, France, South Africa and New Zealand — won’t be worried by this England. An England side with Owen Farrell at No 10 is scary and intimidating. An England team with Farrell at inside centre isn’t. Farrell’s best position is fly-half and that’s where he should play.

That’s nothing against George Ford who has had a fantastic tournament. He really stepped up when Farrell was banned. If Ford was backed to lead the line with Farrell benched, that would also be OK.

I would not have made the choices Steve Borthwick has made for the team to face Samoa

Owen Farrell should be playing at No 10, as it makes Borthwick's side scary and intimidating

Owen Farrell should be playing at No 10, as it makes Borthwick’s side scary and intimidating

Borthwick is a big fan of both Farrell and Ford and clearly wants to play them together. But the issue with putting Farrell and Ford as a 10-12 axis is that it has a knock-on effect on the team that also puts other players out of their best positions. Manu Tuilagi is a 12 not a 13. Joe Marchant is a 13 not a wing.

Some players are born to play certain positions and Tuilagi’s is inside centre.

Many will remember the combination of Ford, Farrell and Tuilagi beating New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup semi-final.

They did, but then misfired a week later in the final when it mattered most.

I feel a bit for Marchant because he’s had a good World Cup and has now been moved away from the midfield after some solid performances.

I always liked to consider what my opposition would think of my selections and that wasn’t just the team we were playing against, but the whole rugby world.

What will Fiji, Ireland, Wales, South Africa and New Zealand think of this England team? Heading into the knockout stages, this selection is that of a pragmatic team still rebuilding confidence and one looking to stay in the game and be hard to beat.

It is not one prepared to attack and take the game to their opponent. Perhaps that is the watermark of England’s 2023 World Cup. Maybe it will be a campaign dominated by the kind of grit, discipline and smart thinking we saw in the opening victory over Argentina. I still think England need more than just that.

The selection of Marchant and Jonny May on the wings to chase high kicks points to how England are going to play.

I don’t know why Henry Arundell isn’t in the team.

I really can’t fathom why he is not even on the bench. What I do know is Arundell should have been starting for England in each of their last 10 games assuming he was fully fit.

Arundell could play wing or full-back in this England side and really add an extra dimension to what it can do in attack. Instead, Borthwick has left him out completely and his comments as to why point to how the team is going to play.

Henry Arundell should have started each of England's last 10 games - but he's not on the bench

Henry Arundell should have started each of England’s last 10 games – but he’s not on the bench

Unless I’m proven wrong, England doesn’t have the pace required to challenge the big four

Unless I’m proven wrong, England doesn’t have the pace required to challenge the big four

But unless I’m proven wrong, this latest England side doesn’t have the pace required to challenge the big four in this tournament.

England still have the ability to make a World Cup semi-final in France though and in a one-off game, anything can happen.

Tougher opposition looms on the horizon and the big question is can this England side pass those tests?

I really hope they deliver a performance on Saturday and surprise me as well as their opponents.