20% of England's latest squad weren't born in England, list includes a 'project player' - Ruck

20% of England’s latest squad weren’t born in England, list includes a ‘project player’

Steve Borthwick has announced a 19-player training squad to start preparations for the upcoming Summer Series against Japan and New Zealand.

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The squad will gather at Pennyhill Park on Monday, May 27, for a four-day training camp. England’s Summer Series kicks off on Saturday, June 22, with a Test match against Japan in Tokyo, followed by a two-Test tour of New Zealand in July.

Ellis Genge and Ollie Chessum have already been ruled out of this year’s tour due to injuries. However, seasoned players Joe Marler and Dan Cole are expected to join the squad for the next camp starting on June 4.

Borthwick hopes to avoid additional injuries during next weekend’s Premiership semi-finals, featuring Northampton, Saracens, Bath, and Sale.

Interestingly, over 20% of the squad comprises players not born in England, with four such individuals included.

Gallagher Man of the Match Rusi Tuima of Exeter Chiefs during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Bristol Bears at Sandy Park, Exeter on 5th Nov 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The group features a blend of players who moved to England as children and those who arrived later in life to pursue professional rugby careers at the highest level.

Rusi Tuima, born and raised in Fiji, falls into the latter category, presenting a particularly intriguing project for Borthwick and his coaching team.

England’s overseas players are:

  • Marcus Smith – Philippines
  • Ethan Roots – New Zealand
  • Rusi Tuima – Fiji
  • Immanuel Feyi-Wabaso – Wales

Marcus Smith swapping nations

The Harlequins fly-half has expressed his desire to contribute to Philippine rugby once he concludes his current Test career.

Born in the Philippines to a Filipino mother and a British father, the 24-year-old spent the first eight years of his life in the country.

According to the current World Rugby eligibility rules, Smith could potentially represent the Philippines after a three-year stand-down period.

During an Ask Me Anything session with England, Smith was questioned about his interest in representing the Philippines.

“One day I’d love to help and be involved in Philippine rugby, my brother currently plays for the Philippines,” the 30-cap England international said.

“Obviously my heart and my mind are fully with England at the minute, it’s a dream of mine to be wearing this kit right now.

“One day that might be different, or when I retire from here, if I get that opportunity, if my body still holds up, it would be lovely to play with both of my younger brothers.”

Five biggest shocks from Borthwick’s latest squad – Zach Mercer left out again

There were a number of high-profile absentees as Steve Borthwick named a 19-player training squad to begin preparations for the forthcoming Summer Series against Japan and New Zealand.

The squad will assemble at Pennyhill Park on Monday 27 May for a four-day training camp.

England’s Summer Series begins on Saturday 22 June with a Test match against Japan in Tokyo before embarking on a two-Test tour of New Zealand in July.

High-profile absentees:

#1.Joe Launchbury (Harlequins)

There have been rumours that the veteran might have done enough to earn a recall. Although he missed the last few games due to a calf injury, there’s still a good chance he could join the squad as the final announcement approaches.

Joe Launchbury of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Harlequins at Kingsholm Stadium on October 14th, 2023 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Phil Mingo/PPAUK/Gallagher)

#2. Zach Mercer (Gloucester)

There was a lot of buzz this week about Mercer possibly returning to the international team. However, yet another squad was announced without him being recalled. The sidelined number 8 must be questioning what more he needs to do to earn a spot on the team.

Zach Mercer of Gloucester Rugby during the Challenge Cup Final Match between Gloucester Rugby and Hollywoodbets Sharks at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 24 May 2024. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK