"A New Era" - Predicting Steve Borthwick's England Squad for the 2024 Six Nations - Ruck

“A New Era” – Predicting Steve Borthwick’s England Squad for the 2024 Six Nations

We are on the cusp of starting a new era of England rugby, following the end to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Steve Borthwick’s men took bronze medals home from France, in an impressive tournament run that saw them narrowly miss out on the Rugby World Cup final.

The third place play-off victory over Argentina confirmed the end to the iconic England careers of Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes. Youngs finished his international duties as the most capped England men’s player with 127 test matches, whilst England vice-captain Lawes was left out of the squad for the bronze medal match. Lawes hung up his England boots following the semi-final defeat against South Africa for his 105th and final cap, the fifth most from an England player.

There is increasing speculation around the futures of an additional three England players, with winger Jonny May, and the veteran prop duo of Dan Cole and Joe Marler all looking towards the twilight of their international tenures. And so, the unrelenting pace of a rugby season rolls on, with just four months now until the 2024 Six Nations gets underway. Borthwick could well utilise next February and March as an opportunity to try out some of the new faces, as England begin the next Rugby World Cup cycle, for Australia 2027.

Courtney Lawes, Captain of England celebrates after winning during the Autumn Nations Match between England and Tonga at Twickenham Stoop on 6 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Here is RUCK’s Predictions for Steve Borthwick’s England squad, for the 2024 Six Nations.



15. Marcus Smith (Harlequins)

14. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)

11. Anthony Watson (Leicester Tigers)

Marcus Smith of England during the Summer Nations Series Rugby match between Wales and England at Principality Stadium on August 5, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

One of the areas of the most contention throughout the Rugby World Cup, Borthwick’s phasing of Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith into fullback has divided opinions amongst England supporters. The dynamic playmaker was a flying addition in the walkover win against Chile, but was left beaten and bruised by the far more physical Fijians.

We expect Borthwick to persevere with his ‘Smith-Fullback’ project, and slot the ever-reliable Freddie Steward to the right wing, as he did against Argentina in the Third-Place Play-Off. Steward adapted well to his position out wide, where he has previously shone at for Leicester Tigers. As for the left wing, we can see Borthwick calling upon Anthony Watson for a return to England duty, with Jonny May’s international career seemingly over.

Anthony Watson of England during the England Rugby Captains Run ahead of the Six Nations Match between Wales and England at Principality Stadium, London on 24 Feb 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Watson was initially named in Borthwick’s squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, yet pulled out of the entire tournament after sustaining a calf injury during the Summer. May’s inclusion came late on, and now with the Gloucester man all but retired internationally, the door is back open for Borthwick’s former Leicester man Watson. As exciting as it would be to see Henry Arundell back in the starting side, we expect the Racing 92 man to take a seat on the bench in the early Six Nations matches.

Arundell had an underwhelming end to his Rugby World Cup campaign, as he barely saw the ball in the bronze medal match against Argentina. Arundell may well have to prove himself to Borthwick once again, despite having won the hearts and minds of the Twickenham faithful with exhilarating performances for London Irish. Despite being off to ply his trade in the French Top 14, Arundell remains eligible for the 2024 Six Nations, and should at least make Borthwick’s match-day 23.


13. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby)

12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks)

A frustrated Ollie Lawrence of England during the Guinness Six Nations match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Saturday 11th March 2023 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.

A relatively new partnership on the international scene, the midfield axis of Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence looks like Borthwick’s best option for the 2024 Six Nations. This comes after Joe Marchant’s exit to Stade Francais, in a move that has ended the centre’s nine-year run at Harlequins. Marchant was a pivotal player for England during the Rugby World Cup, yet missed the plane home in favour of staying in Paris for the foreseeable future.

Marchant is now ineligible to play for England, yet has been vocal on his ambitions to wear the red rose later down the line. Marchant’s circumstances differ to the case of Henry Arundell, as Marchant volentarily moved from Quins to France, whilst Arundell was left unemployed following the financial collapse of London Irish. So, we expect the partnership of Tuilagi and Lawrence to lead the England midfield for the time being. After putting pressure on Tuilangi for his starting spot in the 2023 Six Nations, Lawrence will now likely line-up alongside the Sale Sharks man.

Manu Tuilagi of England during the Autumn Nations Match between England and Australia at Twickenham on 13 November 2021. Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK

In depth, Borthwick has previously expressed an interest in Northampton’s Guy Porter, as the Saints man was included in the wider-training squad for the Rugby World Cup. Exeter Chiefs’ Henry Slade could also make a push to return to the England fold, after being cut by Borthwick for the 33-man World Cup squad. Expect plenty of powerful crash ball carries with this midfield duo, that last had a 29 minute run out together in the world cup quarter-final, against Fiji.