Steve Borthwick’s reign at the helm of English rugby has started in explosive fashion as he announced his first squad ahead of the upcoming Six Nations.
The squad list resembles many of those who profited under Jones’ reign, with the likes of Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell keeping their places in the squad. There have been some very noticeable exclusions from the squad, however, with very established wingers missing the cut in particular.
Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson and Joe Cokanasiga are all casualties of the cull, with youngsters Ollie Hassel-Collins, Caden Murley and Tommy Freeman all preferred. This will no doubt be a kick in the teeth for both Nowell and Cokanasiga after working their way back into the squad just last year following some pretty lengthy injuries.
Many thought that Danny Care may finally get a firm run at the number 9 jersey ahead of this world cup, however, it seems not to be. Borthwick has elected to go with Ben Youngs as the old head alongside the up-and-coming fan favourites Alex Mitchell and Jack Van Poortvliet.
Bath player Ollie Lawrence could feel hard done by as he misses out on yet another England squad, despite some mesmerising performances in the Premiership for the south-west side. Instead, there are recalls for centres Elliot Daly and Joe Marchant, players also currently in red-hot form.
In the forwards, there’s a big hole in the shape of Billy Vunipola as he misses out on selection again, with the more versatile Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds chosen ahead of the Saracens man. Ben Earl receives his first call-up in quite some time, well received by fans after a storming couple of years for Saracens. There’s also a noticeable return in the front row, as Leicester prop Dan Cole returns to the squad for the first time since 2019.
Fans appear to be very mixed on the selection, but no doubt opinions will change as the side takes to the field in February.
𝗦𝗤𝗨𝗔𝗗 𝗔𝗡𝗡𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗖𝗘𝗠𝗘𝗡𝗧 🚨ADVERTISEMENT
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) January 16, 2023
On the very same day as the squad announcement, a very different kind of announcement was happening on the other side of the world. Former England head coach Eddie Jones was revealed by world media to become the next Australia coach ahead of this year’s world cup. Many thought it may be on the cards, but so few believed it would actually happen.
Replacing Dave Rennie at the head of the Wallabies table, Jones is sure to bring in his own brutal style of coaching to turn an Aussie side currently lacking structure and ambition into one of serious potential. Rugby Australia chairman, Hamish McLennan, has come across enthusiastically about the former coach returning to Australian shores, “It is a major coup for Australian rugby to have the best coach in the world return home to coach the iconic Wallabies and to oversee the Wallaroos programme,”.
Borthwick has given a press conference today explaining his selection and his thoughts on Eddie Jones returning to Australia, watch it here: