England Team to Play New Zealand - Steve Borthwick Names Squad for First All Blacks Test - Ruck

England Team to Play New Zealand – Steve Borthwick Names Squad for First All Blacks Test

England men’s head coach Steve Borthwick has named his team to play New Zealand at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, as England commence their two match test series in Dunedin on Saturday. Borthwick has made just two changes to the starting XV, with props Joe Marler and Will Stuart given the start against the All Blacks.

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The England skipper will once again be supported by four vice-captains: Maro Itoje, Ben Earl, Henry Slade and Marler. In the front row, George is named at hooker alongside Marler at loosehead prop and Stuart at tighthead. At lock, Itoje partners George Martin. The back row sees Sam Underhill at openside flanker, Chandler Cunningham-South on the blindside, and Earl at No.8.

Ben Earl of England celebrates after winning during the Guinness Six Nations Match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on March 9th 2024. – PHOTO: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

In the half-backs, scrum-half Alex Mitchell is once again paired with Marcus Smith at 10. The midfield sees Ollie Lawrence named at inside centre with Henry Slade taking the 13 shirt. In an unchanged back three, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso starts on the right wing, with Tommy Freeman on the left and George Furbank selected at full-back to round off the starting line-up.  

Amongst the replacements, the uncapped duo of Harlequins Fin Baxter and Northampton Saints Ollie Sleightholme are poised to win their first England caps. Alex Coles and Ben Spencer are also called into the match day 23, in replace of Charlie Ewels and Harry Randall. They line up alongside Theo Dan, Dan Cole, Tom Curry, and Fin Smith on the bench.

Henry Slade of England, Dan Cole of England and Ollie Lawrence of England during the England Rugby Captains Run ahead of the Six Nations Match between England and Italy at Twickenham, London on 11 Feb 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Cole will win his 114th cap to equal Jason Leonard as England’s second most capped men’s player.

“It doesn’t get more challenging than playing New Zealand at home, but it’s exactly where we want to be,” said Borthwick.  

“We want to find out more about ourselves and test ourselves against one of the best teams in the world.

“Test rugby is a game of fine margins, so our mindset is going to be very important on Saturday. We’ll need to be mentally strong, play a tactically smart game and ensure we maintain our discipline.

“The Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin is a great venue with a quick surface, and the closed roof should make the atmosphere very special.”


Saturday 6th July 2024

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Kick-off: 8.05am (BST)

George Furbank of England the England Rugby Training at Twickenham Stadium, London on 16 February 2024 (Photo: George Beck/PPAUK)

15. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 10 caps)

14. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)

13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 63 caps) – vice-captain

12. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 25 caps)

11. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 9 caps)

10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 33 caps)

9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 16 caps)

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

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 94 caps) – vice-captain   

2. Jamie George (Saracens, 91 caps) – captain   

3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 39 caps)

4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 82 caps) – vice-captain

5. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 13 caps)

6. Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, 5 caps)

7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 36 caps)

8. Ben Earl (Saracens, 31 caps) – vice-captain


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

16. Theo Dan (Saracens, 13 caps)

17. Fin Baxter (Harlequins, uncapped)

18. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 113 caps)

19. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)

20. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 51 caps)

21. Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)

22. Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)

23. Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints, uncapped)



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

Steve Borthwick has made just two changes to his squad that beat Japan, to which will now be taking on the All Blacks this Saturday. The duo of new starters both come in the front row, as the loose-head and tight-head props get shaken up for the battle with New Zealand. Joe Marler comes in to start ahead of Bevan Rodd, with the Sale Sharks man out of the match day 23. Also, Will Stuart is preferred to start in the three jersey ahead of Dan Cole.

STEVE BORTHWICK: “Joe and Dan are exceptional players and are also incredibly influential on the players around them. And there are times they’ll play together and there will be times on the pitch as happened in the Japan game where they play alongside each other.

“I also think it’s great that the influence they have on the younger players in the squad and having that ability to have experience at the start and experience at the end of the game. Because to get the result you want, you need an 80-minute performance.”

Will Stuart 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

“I think that if you look at the loosehead side, in particular, Joe continues to be superb and still eager to develop his game and I think that’s an important thing. Players wanted to keep improving. Joe wants to do that. Clearly Ellis (Genge) is unavailable to us in this series. He’s been sending me his watt bike sessions and challenging me to do them and try and get his scores.

“So I think he is in pretty good shape back in England. And we’ve got Fin (Baxter) and Bevan (Rodd) so I think we’ve got some good players in that part of the team.”


Fin Baxter of Harlequins before the Gallahgher Premiership match between Saracens and Harlequins at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London on 25 March 2023 (Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK)

The England head coach has named two potential debutants for the All Blacks match, in what could be a baptism of fire for the new-coming talents. Harlequins loose-head prop Fin Baxter and Northampton Saints’ flying wing Ollie Sleightholme both get the go-ahead, and take their respective seats amongst the replacements for off the bench involvements.

STEVE BORTHWICK: “Both have spent some time in the squad and have an understanding of what we’re trying to do as a team given neither were part of the World Cup squad or the Six Nations squad. So having had extra time getting used to the systems and looking at the way they have played all season. Ollie’s ability to try to find the try-line and the pace he brings into the team.

Ollie Sleightholme of Northampton Saints on the break hands off Cameron Redpath of Bath Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Northampton Saints and Bath Rugby at Twickenham Stadium on 8 June 2024. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“Fin’s ability to scrum against some very big packs in European rugby and this New Zealand team is a very big and really well drilled pack. So it’s a great contest. I’m looking forward to seeing how these young players go. I think they’re going to be big parts of the England team for many years to come.”

“I think then the scrum is clearly central, it’s the first thing you’ll look up for any prop forward. When you start also looking at his movement outside of the set-piece, he moves really well. I will ring people like Joe Marler and Dan Cole and get their opinion of people they are playing against. And with Joe obviously knowing Fin at the club, and get their view and both of them speak really positively.”