England's leaked XV for All Blacks opener has surprised people - Ruck

England’s leaked XV for All Blacks opener has surprised people

eports tonight suggest that Steve Borthwick is keen to name an unchanged starting lineup for the first Test against the All Blacks.

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This decision indicates Marcus Smith will retain his position at fly-half, and the strategy of using No 8 Ben Earl as an additional centre later in games will continue.

Owen Farrell from Racing 92 is not in contention, while George Ford is sidelined with an Achilles injury, setting up a contest between Marcus Smith and Fin Smith for the fly-half spot.

In their summer tour opener, Marcus Smith scored 13 points, including a slick try from a well-executed set-play, helping England defeat Eddie Jones’ side in Tokyo.

“We’ve tried to focus on backing them and not worrying too much about them making mistakes,” Borthwick said. “We want them to just execute their skills because we’ve got talented players. It’s not necessarily been a natural aspect of our play and we’re trying to develop it.

“There is a real strength to the English nature about being hard to beat. But we also want an aggressive intent, to have that balance.”

Borthwick added, “Ben has the speed and the skillset to play almost anywhere on the field. In any unstructured situation, you back him. He’s got the skillset, he’s got the pace, and he’s also got a great rugby brain. His growth over the last year has been enormous, and he can still grow even more. It’s wonderful having the flexibility to move him into another role.”

Expected England XV to face New Zealand:

15. George Furbank
14. Tommy Freeman
13. Henry Slade (vice-capt)
12. Ollie Lawrence
11. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso
10. Marcus Smith
9. Alex Mitchell
1. Bevan Rodd
2. Jamie George (capt)
3. Dan Cole
4. Maro Itoje (vice-capt)
5. George Martin
6. Chandler Cunningham-South
7. Sam Underhill
8. Ben Earl (vice-capt)

Supercomputer predicts British & Irish Lions 36-man squad for 2025 tour

An artificial intelligence tool has made bold predictions in selecting the 36-man British & Irish Lions squad for their 2025 tour of Australia.

The series finale will be played in front of more than 80,000 fans in Sydney’s Olympic Park.

The 2025 Lions tour fixtures in full

  • Saturday 28 June: v Western Force, Optus Stadium, Perth
  • Wednesday 2 July: v Queensland Reds, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Saturday 5 July: v New South Wales Waratahs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
  • Wednesday 9 July: v ACT Brumbies, GIO Stadium, Canberra
  • Saturday 12 July: v Invitational Australia & NZ XV, Adelaide Oval
  • Saturday 19 July: First Test, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Tuesday 22 July: v Melbourne Rebels, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
  • Saturday 26 July: Second Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground
  • Saturday 2 August: Third Test, Accor Stadium, Sydney

The bolded players in our proposed Lions squad represent the starting XV, according to current odds.




  • Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
  • James Lowe (Ireland)
  • Hugo Keenan (Ireland)
  • Tommy Freeman (England)
  • Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (England)
  • Mack Hansen (Ireland)


  • Bundee Aki (Ireland)
  • Ollie Lawrence (England)
  • Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland)
  • Henry Slade (England)
Bundee Aki of Ireland on the break during the Guinness Six Nations Match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on February 23. – PHOTO: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK