England supporters were taken aback when a particular uncapped forward was once again excluded from the squad, as Steve Borthwick provided the latest squad update leading up to the upcoming match against Wales.
Regrettably, Marcus Smith will not be participating on the field this weekend; however, there is a possibility of prop Ellis Genge making a return to action.
A notable name that garnered significant attention in the squad update comments was Alfie Barbeary, the Bath forward.
The powerhouse signed a long term contract with the club in November 2022.
One of the most exciting young talents in the English game, Barbeary has been involved in a succession of England squads over the past few years and has made a name for himself in European competition and the Gallagher Premiership.
He marked his senior debut for Wasps with a try just three weeks after turning 18 and has continued his fine scoring form ever since, crossing the whitewash 10 times in 26 league outings since 2019.
One fan wrote: “Seems like Barbeary isn’t quite in the picture yet (discipline and fitness according to Steve) but would like to see him involved in the future. Agree a big no. 8 is pretty key.”
Another commented: “Alfie Barbeary should be in there,:
A third said: “I like Barbeary and agree we need a gain line breaker there.”
“Should bring Barbeary into the backrow and play Earl at 12,” commented a fourth.
Another commented: “Get Alfie Barbeary in there. He’s ready for England and the big stage.”
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NIGEL OWENS DREAM SIX NATIONS XV:
Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia), replaced by Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.”
Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.
“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.
“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”
Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.
“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”
Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand), replaced by Owen Farrell (England)
Owens praised Farrell as a player on numerous occasions.
On one occasion he wrote: “I can only speak from my own experience of refereeing him and, when I did, he was an excellent captain to deal with.
“I have a huge amount of respect for him as a player and a person. He always knew where the line was with me.
“I would say to him that he could always come and talk to me as long as it was at the right time and in the right tone and he always did that.”
Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)
Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.
“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.
“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”