England fly-half Smith ruled out of Ireland Six Nations clash - Page 3 of 3 - Ruck

England fly-half Smith ruled out of Ireland Six Nations clash


4. Maro Itoje (Saracens)

5. George Martin (Leicester Tigers)

George Martin of England Rugby during the Six Nations Championship match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on March 13 2021. – PHOTO: Micah Crook/PPAUK

In a move that will surely divide the online England rugby fanbase, the second and back rows are seamlessly interlinked for the rest of this predictions article. Centring around the selection of George Martin, the Leicester Tigers man is equally suited to lock or flanker, and we have picked him to pack down the second row. This sees Martin kick Ollie Chessum out of the engine room, and occupy a seat amongst the replacements.

Maro Itoje of England during the Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 10 February 2024 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

There is no denying the number five shirt to Itoje, as ‘The Pearl’ has been in excellent form throughout the 2024 Championships. The Saracen has commanded his troops with great vocality, and has been one of England’s top performers in the first three rounds. Itoje’s impressive return to top form continues, in what is excitingly becoming the norm once again for the Saracens lock.


6. Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins)

7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)

8. Ben Earl (Saracens)

Chandler Cunningham-South of England during the England Captains Run at Twickenham Stadium, London on 9 February 2024 (Photo: George Beck/PPAUK)

Despite George Martin’s undeniable impact as a replacement flanker against Scotland, we can see Borthwick returning the Leicester man to lock. This opens up the door on the blindside flank, after Ethan Roots’ underwhelming outing in the Calcutta Cup match. Having been knocking on the door for a test match start since his England debut, Chandler Cunningham-South blew it off it’s hinges at Murrayfield. Continuously impressive from the replacements, we can see Borthwick giving the Harlequin his first test start this weekend.

Sam Underhill of England during the Autumn Nations Match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on 20 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

This would be a bold statement, but it would certainly reaffirm Borthwick’s believe in 20-year-old Cunningham-South. Best suited to the blindside, such a decision would move Sam Underhill over to the open-side flank, with the Bath man an equally accomplished tackler in the seven shirt. Ready to leave his opponents bruised on the deck, England fans were delighted at Underhill’s ruthlessness against Wales, after he was shown smiling following a couple of monstrous hits on Keiron Assiratti. Long may this aggression continue for Underhill.

Ben Earl of England celebrates during the Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 10 February 2024 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Rounding off our starting XV, Ben Earl remains amongst England’s top performers in every outing for the side. The Saracen was brilliant in his last home run-out, as he bagged a try against Wales and led the defensive effort. Distraught after England’s defeat in Scotland, we expect another impassioned performance from the number eight, who relishes nothing more than the high stakes matches. They don’t come much bigger than Ireland at home, with Earl expectantly chomping at the bit for this Saturday.


16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Sale Sharks)

17. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears)

18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby)

19. Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers)

20. Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs)

21. Danny Care (Harlequins)

22. Marcus Smith (Harlequins)

23. George Furbank (Northampton Saints)