England: Five key issues Steve Borthwick must fix to take Red Rose back to rugby's top table

England met up in York on Wednesday, immediately launching an extended inquest into Saturday's 30-21 defeat by Scotland.

The Red Rose men now stand a real chance of returning only two wins in five matches for the fourth Six Nations championship in a row.

Here are the top problems head coach Steve Borthwick must fix to take England back to the top of the game.

Regain composure under pressure

England's players freely admitted they dispensed with their gameplan against Scotland.

Lock Maro Itoje conceded that when Scotland put the squeeze on England, the Red Rose men choked.

Soaking up pressure and continuing to enforce your will remains a central rugby tenet.

Clive Woodward's 2003 World Cup win was built around his TCUP acronym of Thinking Clearly Under Pressure. Everyone has heard it a million times now because it remains right on the money.

Joe Schmidt worked wonders with Ireland (Getty Images)
Joe Schmidt worked wonders with Ireland (Getty Images)

Follow Joe Schmidt's Ireland blueprint

Joe Schmidt elevated England's next opponents, Ireland, from mediocrity to a powerhouse.

England will host Ireland a week on Saturday, with the visitors odds-on to become the first team to register back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations era.

The Kiwi coach employed rugby's answer to football's automatisms, so beloved of roundball masters such as Marcelo Bielsa and Thomas Tuchel. Extended set moves are rehearsed and refined until they can be delivered without conscious thought.

Andy Farrell has raised Ireland to even greater heights by adding the stardust of ingenuity and independent thought to an extremely robust framework.

But Schmidt's foundations still hold absolute solid and England could do far worse than to take a leaf out of ex-schoolteacher Schmidt's exercise book.

England are struggling with not just key split-second decisions but also fine-tuning timing issues in attack.

For the short term, sew both those elements into the system and remove one threat of thought away from the players.

England turned the ball over 22 times in defeat by Scotland (AP)
England turned the ball over 22 times in defeat by Scotland (AP)

Balance out the attack

England so nearly toppled South Africa in the World Cup semi-final with a strategy based on tactical kicking and set-piece stability.

Borthwick and his coaches knew at the time that the game plan would require expansion, and this Six Nations has represented the right time to start that process.

But England's players have talked about a move towards a run-first mentality, which ultimately appears at least one step too soon.

England turned the ball over 22 times in defeat by Scotland, simply unable to hold onto possession.

Borthwick may well now look to restrict the added layers of attack purely to cast-iron strike opportunities deep in opposition territory.

Danny Care (Getty Images)
Danny Care (Getty Images)

Regain control at half-back

Danny Care and George Ford were both off-colour in Scotland and will have been left kicking themselves for an opportunity missed.

Care was unable to bring to bear his fantastic Harlequins form for England, while Ford will know that Saturday was his big chance to stamp his authority all over the No10 shirt, in Owen Farrell's absence and with Marcus Smith nearing fitness.

The route to regaining control at nine and 10, however, will not be through ruthless selection, whatever personnel Borthwick deploys for the Ireland clash. A steadying hand at half-back must come through a clearer understanding of the wider framework.

Steve Borthwick has some thinking to do (Action Images via Reuters)
Steve Borthwick has some thinking to do (Action Images via Reuters)

Refine the blitz defence, especially off the scrum

England's new all-out blitz is designed to turn their defence into a constant weapon.

England have insisted the system will take time to bed in, but there are areas where a tempering of that rush ruse might just prove pivotal.

Scotland caught England cold from a scrum for Duhan Van Der Merwe's first try, and a slightly more subtle set-piece defensive set-up could yet help smooth out some rough edges.