Six Nations week one round-up: England struggle as Ireland make statement
Follow live updates as Steve Borthwick names his England team to face Italy in the second round of the Six Nations. England are looking to bounce back from their opening defeat against Scotland at Twickenham, and will return there to face an Italy side who pushed defending champions France in their opening fixture in Rome last weekend.
Borthwick has already made some big calls ahead of his second team selection as England boss, with Ben Youngs, Ben Curry and Anthony Watson dropped from the 29-player training squad named on Wednesday. Manu Tuilagi was the big omission from the opening weekend, with Joe Marchant selected. Borthwick will also have to decide whether to stick with the Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith partnership.
Henry Arundell and Jack Willis could benefit from the absence of Watson and Curry, as Borthwick looks to shuffle the pack and get England firing. Follow all the latest Six Nations news as the England coach names his team to face Italy at 3pm today.
What is the team news?
Steve Borthwick is thought to be mulling changes to his England side after a disappointing start to his tenure as head coach. The return of Henry Slade after injury could lead to a different midfield combination, with Owen Farrell perhaps shifting to fly half with Ollie Lawrence and Slade outside him. Henry Arundell is another returnee from injury and is already pushing for a back-three opportunity, which may come from the bench.
The France-based Jack Willis is likelier to feature this week after missing out last, while Alex Mitchell is in line for a second cap with Ben Youngs, England’s most capped male player, not included.
Italy were without first-choice fly half Paolo Garbisi for their Six Nations opener, and it may be that this game also comes too soon for the playmaker. Tommaso Allan is therefore set to continue at fly half, and after a positive start to the tournament, major changes would appear unlikely.
Kieran Crowley could bring Saracens prop Marco Riccioni into his starting side at tighthead, while the New Zealander may also consider starting Edoardo Padovani in the back three – his experience and aerial acumen may be valuable.
Michael Jones10 February 2023 13:19
Borthwick’s 29-man squad
Here’s the pool from which Borthwick will be selecting his team and bench today:
Forwards: Ollie Chessum (Leicester), Dan Cole (Leicester), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Tom Dunn (Bath), Ben Earl (Saracens), Ellis Genge (Bristol), Jamie George (Saracens) Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton), David Ribbans (Northampton), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Jack Walker (Harlequins), Jack Willis (Toulouse).
Backs: Henry Arundell (London Irish), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Tommy Freeman (Northampton), Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish), Ollie Lawrence (Bath), Max Malins (Saracens), Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Alex Mitchell (Northampton), Henry Slade (Exeter), Fin Smith (Northampton), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Freddie Steward (Leicester), Manu Tuilagi (Sale), Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester).
Michael Jones10 February 2023 13:12
Borthwick to drop Smith
The Telegraph are reporting a story by Gavin Mairs that Steve Borthwick is set to drop Marcus Smith for match against Italy with captain Owen Farrell to be handed the fly-half position.
Borthwick is expected to make a number of changes after the defeat to Scotland and the Harlequins No 10 is set to lose his starting spot.
The Smith-Farrell axis that began under Eddie Jones failed to yield positive results again last Saturday despite brief flashes of promise.
England’s midfield is expected to contain Ollie Lawrence and the fit-again Henry Slade whilst Jack Willis is set to assume the openside flanker position, replacing Ben Curry who failed to make a significant impact in his first Test start.
Ben Youngs, England’s most capped scrum-half, was left out of England’s 29-man squad for Sunday after a lacklustre appearance against Scotland. Jack van Poortvliet and Alex Mitchell will share the scrum-half duties in his absence.
Michael Jones10 February 2023 13:08
England’s Six Nations team announcement for Italy
Steve Borthwick is set to announcement his team squad for England’s next Six Nations match against Italy Scotland on Sunday.
The announcement set for 3pm this afternoon and there may be some changes to the 23-man squad that lost the opening fixture to Scotland last weekend.
The Telegraph are reporting that Marcus Smith will be dropped with captain Owen Farrell to be given the fly-half position.
Borthwick’s team really need to defeat Italy to have any hopes of winning the Six Nations but their opponents impressed in a defeat to France during their first outing.
Michael Jones10 February 2023 13:00