"Debut Bound?" - The Seven Uncapped Players in Steve Borthwick's England Training Squad for Summer Tour - Ruck

“Debut Bound?” – The Seven Uncapped Players in Steve Borthwick’s England Training Squad for Summer Tour

Steve Borthwick has named an initial 19-man England training squad as preparations begin for the Summer tour of Japan and New Zealand. Borthwick’s first available group is compiled of players that are not taking part in the upcoming Premiership play-offs, so no representatives form Northampton Saints, Bath, Sale Sharks or Saracens have joined up just yet.

A revised England training squad will later be announced following the Premiership Final. Borthwick will then name his finalised squad on June 10th at Twickenham, and there are seven uncapped England hopefuls eyeing up a spot on the upcoming tour. England begin their Summer campaign with a trip out to the Far East, as they take on Japan on June 22nd. This fixture will see England reunited with their former head coach Eddie Jones, as the Australian is now back at the helm of the Brave Blossoms.

Borthwick’s men then travel on to New Zealand for a hotly anticipated two-match test series against the All Blacks. England take on New Zealand across the country’s two islands, with the first fixture held in Dunedin’s Forsyth Bar Stadium, before the tour finale takes place at the spiritual home of the All Blacks, Eden Park in Auckland.

The 19-man squad initially got together on Monday, for the opening days of camp at England’s Pennyhill Park training centre. The group has since expanded to a 21-strong contingent, following the additions of veteran props Joe Marler and Dan Cole to the group. Both the Harlequin and Leicester front rowers are fit for selection, and could well be on their way to Japan for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final.

Here is a run through of the seven uncapped players in the England squad, that will be hoping to impress Steve Borthwick for the fast approaching Summer Tour of Japan and New Zealand.

1. Rusi Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)

Rusi Tuima of Exeter Chiefs races over for a try during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints at Sandy Park, Exeter on 6th Jan 2024. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

A homegrown talent of the Exeter Chiefs academy, 24-year-old Rusi Tuima has received his first call-up into the England senior camp after another impressive season at Sandy Park. Having initially broken into the Chiefs set-up as a back-row forward, Tuima’s position was converted to lock for the 2023/24 campaign, in what has been a successful stint in the second row. Tuima has made the Chiefs number four jersey his own this season, with his 19 total starts including getting some crucial Premiership and Champions Cup fixtures under his belt.

Born in Suva, Fiji, test match rugby runs deep within Tuima’s family. The nephew of 65-capped Fiji international Akapusi Qera, Rusi’s family tree also includes his Red Roses capped sister Lagi, and his England international cousin Joe Cokanasiga. After progressing through the age-grade levels and earning international honours with England, Tuima gained valuable senior rugby experience with dual-contract tenures at Plymouth Albion and the Cornish Pirates, ahead of becoming a Chiefs mainstay. Tuima scored eight of his 15 total Chiefs tries this season, in what marked a significant campaign for the lock.

2. Greg Fisilau (Exeter Chiefs)

Greg Fisilau of Exeter Chiefs on the break through Will Porter of Harlequins and Marcus Smith of Harlequins during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins at Sandy Park, Exeter Devon on 11th May 2024. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

We stick with the Chiefs for the time being, as back-row bruiser Greg Fisilau joins his Exeter teammate Tuima with test debut hopes set in their sights. At 20-years-old, Fisilau is progressing at an exponential rate in the Exeter back row, after he was picked up following the collapse of his former club Wasps. A Plymouth native, the move to Chiefs was a step closer to home for Fisilau, who has since amassed 32 caps for the Chiefs, and 27 as a starter.

Like his Exeter and England camp teammate Tuima, Fisilau also has test match experience running through his veins. The number eight is the son of former Tongan international Kenni Fisilau, who played centre for the Sea Eagles from 1999 to 2005. Fisilau is still in the relativly early stages of his senior rugby, after making his debut for Wasps in the 2021 Premiership Rugby Cup against Leicester Tigers. Undoubtedly a star for the future, Borthwick could well give the young-gun his shot in the upcoming Summer tour, as the talented eight-man gets prepared to bring the Fisilau name back to the test match stage.