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Argentina v England: Our focus on finishing World Cup in right way – Richard Wigglesworth

Elliot Daly, Richard Wigglesworth and Tom Curry
Richard Wigglesworth (centre) and Tom Curry (right) speaking to the media, along with Elliot Daly, before last Saturday’s semi-final against South Africa
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Friday, 27 October Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app

Attack coach Richard Wigglesworth has said England will not let investigations into an alleged on-pitch slur distract them from Friday’s Rugby World Cup third-place play-off against Argentina.

“It’s noise that isn’t about Friday – our prep and our desire to finish in the right way,” said Wigglesworth.

“We’re really motivated to show our progress, to finish in the right way. That is with a win and a feeling that we deserve.”

England beat Argentina in their tournament opener, despite losing Curry to a third-minute red card in Marseille.

The 25-year-old finds himself at the centre of controversy once again after the referee’s microphone picked up his complaint about an alleged racial slur by Mbonambi.

It has been suggested on social media that Mbonambi may have been making a tactical call in Afrikaans which sounds like an offensive phrase in English.

“I’m not sure you can ever put yourself in those shoes and know how it feels, but what I do know is that Tom’s an impressive young man who if selected on Friday, he’ll pour everything into that England shirt,” added Wigglesworth.

“World Rugby have been pretty vocal in following up things in the past and they need to do the same again.”

‘Up to us to see where we can take this team’

Ben Earl applauds fans from the pitch
Earl has established himself as England’s first-choice number eight with a series of series of stellar performances at France 2023

The rematch with the Pumas could be the final Test in several England players’ careers. Courtney Lawes will retire from international rugby at the end of the tournament, while wing Jonny May says it is “more than likely” he will also call time on England duty after Friday’s game.

Asked whether is it hard for the team to pick themselves up mentally after suffering the late defeat by the Springboks, number eight Ben Earl cited the motivation to pay tribute to Lawes, May and potentially others with a victory.

“It is hard – very hard,” he said.

“We have got to lean on each other and give those boys, for who it might be their last game for England, the send-off they deserve.

“For Courtney to be playing some of his best rugby last weekend, in what could have been one of his last games for England, is testament to the type of player he is.

“It says a lot about him. It is probably one of the most selfless decisions you can make, pulling your own plug on your international career.”

Earl has been one of the breakout stars of England’s campaign. The 24-year-old made his first international start in August in a World Cup warm-up win over Wales, but has made more runs and tackles than any other England player in a string of all-action performances at France 2023.

“I’m really pleased with what I’ve put out in this campaign,” he added. “I’m just glad I could contribute with a rose on my chest. There’s a few of us now that have a bit of individual responsibility, a small group of us that have now got to think what’s next for this England team.

“There’s no secret there’s going to be a little bit of a transition. The really experienced guys maybe not being involved any more. It’s up to us now to take that mantle on and see where we can take the team.”

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