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Thursday Nov 30, 2023

The key change Steve Borthwick has made to England squad selection

England achieved a great level of success under Eddie Jones over the years, but there were always a few grumbles and gripes surrounding the 63-year-old’s somewhat outlandish and overpowering leadership style.

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As Danny Care, Danny Cipriani, Marland Yarde, and many more. will tell you, it was Eddie’s way or the high way.

When it came down to international selection, Jones would select the players he wished to view from each club and they would all come to him for a gruelling training camp.

Sale Sharks boss, Alex Sanderson has talked about the nightmare this would cause both players and their clubs: “What they used to do was have a couple of days at a camp, which was agreed to, and they would go away for two days, usually on a Monday and Tuesday.

“They would be beaten up on a Monday anyway so they wouldn’t be able to do anything, and they’d miss the Tuesday sessions and it would be really adverse on any team’s prep, the whole country’s prep because every team has got two or three lads in there.

Steve Borthwick has taken very much a different approach to the role of squad selection, preferring to pro-actively visit the players on their home turf ahead of next years Six Nations.

“Now what they are doing to spend more quality time with the players is going to where those players live and spending an afternoon with those players, just one afternoon twice, and going through their games with them, their prospects and what they have got to do I guess to get into that squad and they will be able to spend more time with more players over that afternoon.

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“It’s brilliant for us because it means was can arrange our training day around when they are not meeting with Steve. He asked me what my thoughts were and I said that’s brilliant, these dates are good and we talked about these players and more but these are the guys he has flagged up to come and have a chat too.

“This will be nationwide. There will be lots more (players talked to) than what he is able to select in a squad to get a feel for the people that they are. It’s really smart, I think.”

Sanderson clearly sees this as a major positive, and will hopefully allow the England coach to see the players in a more relaxed and natural environment, instead of the melting pot of what was essentially an international trial.

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