Steve Borthwick insists the experience of Richard Wigglesworth will benefit England after the Saracens scrum-half won the race to replace the injured Ben Youngs.
Youngs has been been ruled out for the remainder of the Six Nations and possibly the rest of the season after rupturing the MCL ligament of his left knee in Sunday’s 46-15 victory over Italy.
Wigglesworth will go straight into the matchday 23 for Wales’s visit to Twickenham on Saturday, most likely as cover for former Leeds Tyke Academy product Danny Care from the bench, in his first England appearance since the 2015 World Cup.
“Richard’s an outstanding player who brings great experience and knowledge of the game,” said forwards coach Borthwick, Wigglesworth’s former Saracens captain.
“He’s been playing at the top level of European rugby for a long time now.
“I was sitting in meetings with him (yesterday morning) and the input he has, the experience he has, the ideas he has have been excellent.
He’s come into camp and straight away fitted in seamlessly with the players, picking up all the calls and everything he needs to do.Steve Borthwick on scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth
“He’s come into camp and straight away fitted in seamlessly with the players, picking up all the calls and everything he needs to do.
“One thing that always stands out for me is how fit he is. For a player in that position you need great conditioning and he certainly has that. He’s playing well and is in fantastic shape.”
Youngs, England’s first-choice scrum-half, faces a race against time to be fit for the summer tour to South Africa after his knee buckled awkwardly as he was challenged at the base of a ruck at the Stadio Olimpico.
“As a player you’re tremendously disappointed for Ben. He’s been playing so well and working so hard to constantly improve his game,” added Borthwick.
“Interestingly though, like he said to me this morning, it’s an opportunity for him to get better and he’s already embracing the opportunity it gives to come back in physically even better shape than he’s ever been in.
“So he’s taken a really great approach to what is clearly a really disappointing situation.
“He’s seeing the specialist later to get the full information on everything and then a plan will be made from there.”
Wigglesworth feared the 2015 World Cup would stand as a bitter final chapter of his England career.
The last of his 27 caps was won against Uruguay in the final match of Stuart Lancaster’s reign, and until Sunday he was stranded in Test exile due to Eddie Jones’s reliance on only two scrum-halves.
“That was one of the worst weeks of my life. There is no point sugar-coating it – you put that much effort into something and you mess it up,” Wigglesworth said. “So many things go through your mind at the time and it being my last involvement will definitely have been one of them.
“But a long time ago I stopped worrying about what I couldn’t control. I use this line a lot – being able to look myself in the mirror and know that I had done everything I can to give myself a chance. I got on with that.
“Experience probably helped. I’m lucky to be at the club that I’m at – going back to something meaningful and being at the sharp end of tournaments definitely helped me get over what happened at the World Cup.
“It feels good being back, but this is not the way you want to take the call. Having done a knee myself like Ben has, you always fear the worst.”