"Massive Honour" - Gloucester Head Coach George Skivington to Coach England 'A' Against Portugal - Page 2 of 3 - Ruck

“Massive Honour” – Gloucester Head Coach George Skivington to Coach England ‘A’ Against Portugal


Fin Smith of Northampton Saints during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Gloucester Rugby and Northampton Saints at Kingsholm on 3 December. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

10. Fin Smith (Northampton Saints)

9. Harry Randall (Bristol Bears)

Called into the wider training squad for the Rugby World Cup, few expected Fin Smith to gain more than valuable experience given the selection conundrum Borthwick faced for the number 10 jersey. With the decision all but nailed down in Marcus Smith’s move to full-back, his Northampton Saints name-sake could well get an outing in the England A side against Portugal. Smith has started the 2023/24 season with strong performances, with key kicks securing the Saints victories against Newcastle and Bath.

We predict that England’s forgotten scrum-half Harry Randall will make his return, and provide Borthwick with another selection saga for the foreseeable future. The playing field is open following Ben Young’s international retirement as England’s all-time most capped men’s player. Harlequin’s veteran Danny Care has stated his intentions to remain in England contention, with Alex Mitchell and a returning Jack van Poortvliet looking to be the likely trio of scrum-halves for the Six Nations squad.

Harry Randall of England stands with Sam Underhill of England during the International match between England and USA at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on July 4 2021. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Should Borthwick select his halfbacks as we predict, the door would open up for Randall in the England A side. Also, there is an exciting talent on our replacements bench, as Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Sam Maunder continues to impress the Devonshire faithful.


Val Rapava-Ruskin of Gloucester Rugby as he goes over for a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Saracens and Gloucester Rugby at Stonex Stadium on 24 September. Photo: Frankie OKeeffe/PPAUK

1. Val Rapava-Ruskin (Gloucester Rugby)

2. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons)

3. Jimmy Halliwell (Bristol Bears)

Believed to be long overdue an England debut, the time could well be now for Gloucester’s Val Rapava-Ruskin to finally wear the red rose. Left out of the 2023 Six Nations and Rugby World Cup finalised squads, Rapava-Ruskin continues to push on as a definitive fan favourite at Kingsholm. Fans of the Cherry and Whites would prefer to see ‘Big Val’ get his full England debut, however we predict Borthwick to retain Joe Marler to the Six Nations squad to phase in this transitioning front row.

Opposing Rapava-Ruskin on the tight-head of the scrum, we predict Borthwick to look into the England U20s set-up and call-up Jimmy Halliwell. Now 21-years-old, the Bristol Bears prop has graduated the age group system and is learning from ideal company at Ashton Gate. Halliwell has been under the scrummaging tutelage of Bristol’s Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge, and should the rumours of Sinckler’s move to Toulon materialise, Halliwell could well take the number three jersey sooner than expected.

Jamie Blamire 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

And finishing off the front row, we predict to see Jamie Blamire named to start at hooker against Portugal. The Newcastle Falcon was like so many of his colleagues, called up into the wider England training squad ahead of the Rugby World Cup, yet was cut from the trip to France after the opening Summer defeat to Wales. The Falcon’s hooker has a keen eye for the try-line, and has already scored three times this season. Blamire crossed over in the Premiership Rugby Cup against Leicester, as well as adding two league scores against Bath and Harlequins.