"Borthwick lost the plot" - Marcus Smith set for shock position switch - Page 3 of 3 - Ruck

“Borthwick lost the plot” – Marcus Smith set for shock position switch


Dejection for Ben Earl of England after the Six Nations Championship, Calcutta Cup match between England and Scotland at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 4th 2023. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

6. Courtney Lawes (Vice Captain) (Northampton Saints)

7. Jack Willis (Toulouse)

8. Ben Earl (Saracens)

The back row was the hardest piece of Borthwick’s puzzle to put together. With Billy Vunipola now banned, there are no specialist number eights eligible in the England squad for the Rugby World Cup. Tom Curry was in a protective boot just three weeks ago, and Borthwick may not want to risk an early return to action for the Sale Sharks man.

Ben Earl has some experience in the eight shirt, having sporadically played at the back of the scrum for Saracens in recent years. Jack Willis is more of an out-and-out flanker with Toulouse, yet can cover the eight jersey if called upon. Despite his versatility across the locks and flanks, Courtney Lawes is better suited to starting at six than eight, with England’s back-row conundrum wrapping up the starting XV for Saturday.


Following the Twickenham victory over Wales a fortnight ago, Joe Marler gave us a secret spoiler as he did not give his shirt to a fan. He understandably wanted to keep the number one jersey, after apologising to the young fan and saying “it’s my last one”, in what could possibly be referencing a start at Twickenham.

We’ve kept Marler out of the squad, with third-choice loosehead Bevan Rodd on the bench to get an extended run-out before the Rugby World Cup. Following the same style as last weekend, we have not selected a back-three player on Borthwick’s bench. Instead, we have Tuilagi amongst the re-enforcements, ready to turn-around the game if Fiji take the lead.

The halfback duo of George Ford and Ben Youngs are amongst the replacements, with Joe Marchant likely to once again push out to the wing, as the bench is emptied out in the latter stages of the match.

Theo Dan 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

16. Theo Dan (Saracens)

17. Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks)

18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby)

19. David Ribbans (Northampton Saints)

20. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)

21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

22. George Ford (Sale Sharks)

23. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks)

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