FORMER Lymm Rugby Club star Alex Mitchell will be a shock starter at scrum-half in England’s World Cup opener on Saturday.

Mitchell, 26, the Northampton Saints No9, was not selected in the original 33-man squad named by Steve Borthwick, but he gets the nod for the Group D clash with Argentina in Marseille, France.

The former Lymm High School student’s attacking prowess was seen as one of very few positives to come out of England’s embarrassing 30-22 defeat to Fiji at Twickenham in their last warm-up game on August 26, when Mitchell was handed his first start for the senior national team.

Mitchell livened up England’s attack when he made four appearances off the bench during last winter’s Six Nations campaign, but Borthwick surprisingly omitted the Saints man from his World Cup squad.

A recall came for Mitchell when first-choice scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet from Leicester Tigers withdrew in mid-August due to needing ankle surgery, though the two other No9s in the squad – experienced campaigners Danny Care and Ben Youngs – appeared to be ahead of him in the pecking order.

The change of thought looks to have come about as a result of the team and individual performances in that loss to Fiji, and what has been delivered in camp since.

Mitchell particularly caught the eye in the opening stages of that clash with Fiji with his ability to add tempo to the attack.

He is a willing runner with the ball, delivers precision passes after attracting defenders and also has a tidy kicking game in his armoury.

Warrington Guardian: Alex MitchellAlex Mitchell (Image: PA Wire)

“Alex was a dangerous running threat against Fiji; everyone knows he is a dangerous running threat,” Borthwick said.

“Immense credit to Mitch in that he was incredibly disappointed not to make the original 33-man squad. An opportunity opened up.

“One of the positives that came out of that Fiji game was his performance. He played well and he’s trained exceptionally well. He’s ready to go.”

Another Warrington connection in the World Cup is ex-Warrington Wolves captain and fitness guru, Jon Clarke.

The Grappenhall man, who became The Wire’s head of performance as part of Tony Smith and Steve Price’s set-ups, switched codes and was a key figure in Eddie Jones’ backroom team when England reached the last World Cup Final in Japan in 2019.

But after Jones left his England role he became head coach of Rugby Australia, and Clarke joined him as head of strength and conditioning in February.

Clarke, 44, has been in charge of the Wallabies players being in prime condition for the tournament in France, with their opening game coming against Georgia in Paris on Saturday.