‘Everyone wants England to lose’: Ellis Genge takes aim at World Cup critics

Ellis Genge has said that “everyone” wants England to lose as Steve Borthwick’s side begin to ready themselves for a World Cup semi-final against South Africa.

Borthwick’s unfancied England are the only unbeaten team left in France after a weekend that saw all of Ireland, France and Wales exit the tournament.

They remain outsiders to win the World Cup, particularly with an outstanding Springboks side up next fresh from felling the hosts.

But some players within Borthwick’s squad appear to be relishing that position as underdogs, repeatedly insisting that a side that had won just three of nine games under their head coach before this tournament had been written off too soon.

Genge emphasised as much after securing victory over Fiji, appearing to embrace a siege mentality and suggesting that certain figures within the squad had been made out to be “villains”.

“I think it’s probably case by case,” Genge said on whether the squad were listening to the rugby public’s perception of them. “I quite like the noise and having our backs up against the wall, with everyone wanting us to lose.

“That probably fuels me a bit. Others are probably better off blocking it out.

“You look around and we have people like Courts and people with 300 caps across three players, which is mental, and some of the best players of their generation. Right now, they are probably the villains because everyone hates on them. Faz [Owen Farrell] gets a lot of grief, but you are happy to have him in the team every single time.”

England captain Farrell’s name appeared to be booed by a significant portion of the Stade Velodrome crowd ahead of kick off, despite thousands of travelling England fans being in attendance in Marseille.

Farrell responded by producing a fine individual performance, kicking 20 points to lead his side to victory.

“Knowing Owen like I do, he doesn’t care about other people’s opinions,” said Farrell’s Saracens clubmate Jamie George. “It didn’t surprise me the way he played.

“He plays like that every week. I’m lucky enough to play with him every week at Sarries. He does it every time he plays.”

Richard Wigglesworth also questioned the criticism of a player who has now won 110 caps and is England’s leading points scorer in international history.

“He definitely doesn’t have to prove anything," said attack coach Wigglesworth about his former Saracens teammate on Monday. “We are lucky to have Owen. As ever, the tallest trees catch the most wind and he seems to catch a fair bit.

“He’s proven time and time and time again and I don’t understand why in England we feel the need to not celebrate that, not enjoy it, just because he’s not sat in front of social media or the media lapping all that up.

"He is incredibly serious about his career and he’s an incredibly proud Englishman. He affects any team he is in and he was brilliant for us - as we knew he would be.

"That was the maddening part of any noise. We knew what was coming from him.

“The minority are always the loudest. They are who you hear. But the majority of people in the stadium, the majority of the people turning up are loving this team and supporting it. I thought the fans were incredible.”