Six Nations: England to use last two rounds to measure progress under Steve Borthwick

six nations England Ellis Genge during a training session. Credit: Alamy
six nations England Ellis Genge during a training session. Credit: Alamy

England front-row Ellis Genge believes the final two rounds of the Six Nations will be a good gauge of his side’s progress during the early stages of the Steve Borthwick era.

The Red Rose can still claim the title, but it would require two impressive wins against France and Ireland.

Building momentum

Borthwick’s reign as head coach started with a loss to Scotland in the opening round, followed by back-to-back wins against Wales and Italy as the team gathered more momentum.

Genge feels despite being ranked sixth in the world, England have shown steadiness and are building a foundation to work with.

“We have the second and first best teams and it goes in order as well,” he said.

“If you beat the second best, you’re probably licking your lips to get stuck into the number one side. It’s a great opportunity to see where we’re at.

“The rankings say we are sixth in the world. We’re going through a rebuild. We’re trying to build some foundations for what’s to come.

“We’ve actually been quite steady. It was obviously gutting to lose to Scotland in the first game and have the opportunity to win a Grand Slam taken away from us, but then you have to re-evaluate and find new goals.

“There was an opportunity to build on the first game and then you see where you are at in the last. It’s all about stepping forward.

“It might sound cringey but it’s reality, it’s where you’re at when you’ve not necessarily hit rock bottom but when you’re not performing as well as you can.

“You want answers, you want to know why, you’re trying so hard and suddenly you start to see a slight change in behaviours and performance and outcome. That’s what we’re getting after.”

Les Bleus battle at Twickenham

Fabien Galthie’s France side are favourites at Twickenham this weekend as they look to claim their first win at the famous ground since 2005.

Genge wants to make the most of the underdog mentality and produce a result for England.

“Sometimes the free swing isn’t the best way to go. Sometimes that underdog psychology can inflate teams,” he said.

“I’ve had it a fair bit in my rugby career as a whole – that underdog psychology, being up and down in the rankings and whatever at club level, then it’s reciprocated at international level as well.

“It’s nothing new to me and I think the boys are in a good spot with that sort of stuff as well. Everyone understands where we’re at.

“I don’t think France would ever go into a game thinking England are crap, I’d like to think that anyway. I think we’ve got a bit of respect in that sense.

“Likewise, we’d never go into a game thinking the other team was a pushover. There are so many shock results lately, in every line of sport, not just rugby. You can’t take anything for granted.

“France are a brilliant side, momentum is key for them. I guess they’ll be scratching their heads thinking how are we going to stop them.”

READ MORE: Six Nations: Five storylines to follow on the penultimate weekend including Le Crunch and Ireland’s toughest test

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