"A New Era" - Predicting Steve Borthwick's England Squad for the 2024 Six Nations - Page 2 of 3 - Ruck

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


10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)

9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)

Owen Farrell, Captain of England kicking during the Six Nations Championship, Calcutta Cup match between England and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 4th 2023. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

The latter stages of the Rugby World Cup campaign presented Borthwick’s halfback plans for the foreseeable future. England captain Owen Farrell will likely lead the line at fly-half, with George Ford pushed out to the replacements for the 2024 Six Nations. As mentioned earlier, Marcus Smith could expect to continue to star at fullback, which we believe could open up the door for an ‘apprentice’ slot, for Northampton Saints’ 21-year-old fly-half Fin Smith.

It’s unlikely to see Fin Smith get a great deal of game time with Farrell and Ford both in the squad, yet the young Saints man will have invaluable opportunities to learn and improve in the England camp. Farrell is 32, and Ford is 30, it would be a long shot to see both halfbacks at the 2027 Rugby World Cup, so why not start to introduce the next generation as early as possible. A start against Italy could introduce Fin Smith’s blockbuster talents to the England audience, and plant the seeds for years to come.

Fin Smith of Northampton Saints during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Gloucester Rugby and Northampton Saints at Kingsholm on 3 December. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Despite being left out of the initial Rugby World Cup squad, Alex Mitchell made good on his opportunity after being a late addition to the side. Mitchell was flown out to France to re-place Jack van Poortvliet, when the scrum-half suffered a late ankle injury in a Summer warm-up match against Wales. Mitchell progressed to become Borthwick’s leading scrum-half at the Rugby World Cup, and could well retain this role for the 2024 Six Nations.

Jack van Poortvliet of Leicester Tigers is tackled by Alex Mitchell of Northampton Saints during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Semi Final Match between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on 11 June. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Behind Mitchell would most likely be the returning van Poortvliet, to take the number 21 shirt. The Tigers halfback will want to maximise his minutes, and push the Northampton scrum-half to retain his starting jersey. The confirmed international retirement to Ben Youngs has opened up the door for both van Poortvliet and Mitchell to thrive, yet Danny Care has alluded that he has no immediate plans to hang up his boots for England. The Harlequin is our pick for a third choice scrum-half, to add an experienced voice in the England camp throughout the 2024 Six Nations.


1. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears)

2. Jamie George (Saracens)

3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby)

Ellis Genge, Captain 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

Onto the forwards now, in what is an area of great change for Steve Borthwick’s new era. There is increasing expectation that veteran props Joe Marler and Dan Cole will step down from international duty, with our leading loose and tight-head props being Ellis Genge and Will Stuart. Genge took an expected lead role in the number one jersey for the Rugby World Cup, and if Marler steps down, the Baby Rhino will take full charge for the 2024 Six Nations.

The tight-head prop is an area of more intrigue, as despite the questions surrounding his England future, Dan Cole took a leading role for the majority of the Rugby World Cup. The 36-year-old started four of England’s matches, including the quarter and semi-final stages. The lifelong Leicester man overtook Kyle Sinckler to the number three jersey, with the Bristol Bears prop not having the impact he would have hoped for in France. If Cole steps away, we can see Will Stuart stepping in on the tight-head, after stringing together a series of impressive performances, and putting Sinckler under pressure in the 2023 Six Nations.

Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 12 caps) during England Rugby training session at The Lensbury Hotel, Teddington, London on 28 Sept 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Borthwick could well pull the trigger on Stuart, and send him into the front-line to start in this new-look England side. Between the props, we can still see a spot for Jamie George, with his Saracens understudy Theo Dan, set to bide his time a little longer from the replacements. George is without a doubt England’s best option at hooker, and has been since taking the reins from Dylan Hartley as far back as 2017. Dan is in the best possible place to learn and improve from George, who could well be setting up to pass the torch for his club and country teammate, in the run up to the 2027 Rugby World Cup.