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Page last updated at 19:41 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

Defiant Borthwick remains upbeat

SIX NATIONS 2009 - ENGLAND v FRANCE
Venue: Twickenham Date: Sunday, 15 March Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: 1430-1700, BBC One, BBC Red Button, Radio 5 Live, BBC HD and BBC Sport website. Post-match forum 1700-1730, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website

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Johnson defends Borthwick as captain

Captain Steve Borthwick insists he is the right man to lead England out of their form and disciplinary crisis.

England have won just two games in nine under Borthwick and have dropped to eighth in the world rankings.

The team have picked up 10 yellow cards in their last four matches, but Borthwick responded to critics ahead of England's match with France on Sunday.

"I try and influence things in the most positive way I can to help this team's development," he said.

"I know the view of me as a captain is inextricably linked to the performance of the team and more specifically the results.

"I am trying to influence as positively as possible with my actions, my training, working with the coach and how I address the group and individuals.

"I am captain of England. It is fantastic. It has its challenges but millions of people want to be in the position I am in. It is a huge honour."

England manager Martin Johnson said he never considered dropping second-row Borthwick ahead of Nick Kennedy, who makes way for Wasps veteran Simon Shaw for the visit of Marc Lievremont's side at Twickenham.

Discipline has been Johnson's prime concern having watched his side concede over 60 penalties in four matches, while 10 players have spent time in the sin-bin.

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Referees Wayne Barnes and Andrew Small have been called in to help England eradicate their penalty count.

And Borthwick said his team would be adopting a similar on-field communication strategy to Sir Clive Woodward's era with Australian referee Stuart Dickinson in charge on Sunday.

Scrum-half Matt Dawson would often repeat every refereeing instruction to his team-mates, as well as issue a "dead" call to stop competing at the breakdown when the ball was lost.

"We have chased too many lost causes at the breakdown," said Borthwick. "It is one area we can improve upon. Those players on the fringes can communicate what the referee wants to the whole team.

"Let's say there has been an emphasis placed on certain calls to ensure that happens. We have an equivalent to the 'dead' call."

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see also
England change three for France
11 Mar 09 |  English
French coach makes referee plea
11 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Chabal to switch for England game
11 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
Skipper Borthwick defies critics
10 Mar 09 |  English
Ireland 14-13 England
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
France 21-16 Wales
27 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales 23-15 England
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
England 36-11 Italy
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union


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