England’s Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on Saturday will be without fly-half Marcus Smith, who sustained a calf injury during Monday’s training session.
Initially expected to start against the Azzurri, Smith’s absence opens the door for 21-year-old Fin Smith from Northampton to make his international debut from the bench, while George Ford takes the starting position.
In a squad update, England head coach Steve Borthwick revealed that Smith is among 13 players not being utilized this weekend. Despite the setback, Borthwick expressed confidence in the team’s preparation, stating, “After an excellent week’s preparation in Girona, we look forward to the challenge of playing Italy in Rome.”
Commenting on the Azzurri’s strengths, Borthwick acknowledged, “The Azzurri are a dangerous team, with some talented ball carriers and players who like to find space. We’ll need to make good decisions, keep our discipline, and maintain a level of intensity to our performance from the first whistle to the last.”
Borthwick also highlighted the significance of earning a first cap for the country, expressing his delight for the debutants and their hard work to secure a spot in the 23-man squad facing Italy.
The coach’s message to the newcomers emphasized being themselves, seizing the opportunity, and playing to their strengths.
The identity of the other players released from the squad can be found below.