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Monday Jun 12, 2023

England Number Eight rules himself out of Rugby World Cup contention

Sam Simmonds has ruled himself out of England’s Rugby World Cup training squad ahead of his move to French Top 14 side Montpellier.

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The news comes in the wake of England head coach Steve Borthwick’s announcement of a 28-player training squad.

The squad excludes players from Saracens, Sales Sharks Northampton and Leicester Tigers, who contested the Premiership semi-finals.

Simmonds’ withdrawal from the squad is not entirely unexpected, given he has yet to feature under Borthwick. Based on reporting in the Telegraph, it is understood that the decision was made following a conversation between the two men.

With Simmonds not in the squad, the return of Zach Mercer, who Simmonds is replacing at Montpellier, is a timely boost for England. Joining Mercer as a number eight option is Saracens star Billy Vunipola who continues his rehabilitation.

Vunipola’s addition is significant, given his omission from previous Borthwick squads.

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