Guy Porter: "I was in the England environment - I've enjoyed watching them build a more complete game"

Porter worked under England boss Steve Borthwick when he was in charge at Leicester
©David Howlett

England enter the final week of World Cup pool matches with momentum behind them.

After coming into the tournament with shaky form (at best), the pressure seemed to be mounting on the national side and around head coach Steve Borthwick.

However, after three wins from three, as well as having their place in the quarter-finals confirmed last Thursday night, England are now preparing for their final pool match against Samoa in Lille before heading to Marseille for the last eight.

And despite the major concerns around how they might have performed in France following a stuttering summer, Leicester Tigers' Guy Porter was confident England would come to the fore when it mattered most.

"They’re on track to go deep into the knockout stages," said Porter, who was one of the final names released from Borthwick's squad when it was cut to 33 players prior to the World Cup.

"Clearly, they didn't get the results through the warm-up games (losing to Wales, Ireland and Fiji), but I was actually in the environment throughout that and there's a great deal of ability in that group.

"They've never been far off, and they've got the leaders I think to pull together. There's a really impressive win over Argentina, and they're on track to go deep into the knockouts. I've really enjoyed watching them pull together what they've been working on and start to build a more complete game."

There will surely be a part of Porter which wishes he was over in France, and he admitted his involvement with England during the summer made for an odd pre-season experience when he returned to Leicester Tigers.

“Obviously it's been a bit of a funny build-up, having been away for a significant part of the pre-season, and I've come right back in just as we're starting to play games so it's been a good opportunity for me," Porter said, before Leicester's 60-7 win over Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership Rugby Cup on Saturday.

"I think I had a bit of a disjointed year last year and didn't string too many games together so to be involved on matchday has been a real positive, and I'm just trying to play a role and use what I've been working on to kick on."

Porter was born in Kensington, London, but moved to Australia at the age of seven – hence his strong accent these days.

In terms of his international path, this meant he was eligible for both the Wallabies and England, and given Eddie Jones’ appreciation of his skills, he may well have been in France playing in the Green and Gold had things turned out a little differently.

Australia concluded a tough World Cup pool stage by beating Portugal on Sunday and Porter does feel for the Wallabies with their exit from the tournament all but confirmed: "I've got friends in that set-up, and to see guys upset and disappointed, I'll take no joy," he said. "It's an important time in Australian rugby, and I'm sure they've got the coaching ability in there to sort it out. I think, clearly for everyone, it's a disappointing result."

Switching things back to Leicester, there has been a major overhaul in terms of the backroom staff - with Australian Dan McKellar beginning to settle into his role of head coach at Mattioli Woods Welford Road - and the centre is relishing the chance to play under his new boss, having worked together for a short time at the Brumbies.

“We've tried to evolve our game and layer a few things to show them on the pitch," Porter said, as Leicester continue building towards their Premiership opener against Bristol Bears on October 13th. "It [the Premiership Rugby Cup] has been a really good learning experience for us.

"We've used plenty of players across the squad, some young guys in particular have stepped up, and it's been really positive for us in terms of what we want to achieve this year. We want to be playing in big games across all competitions. As a squad, that's where we want to get to, but first and foremost there's plenty of growth in us which is the most exciting part.”