Meet the 6 Uncapped Players in Steve Borthwick's England Squad for Summer Tour of Japan & New Zealand - Ruck

Meet the 6 Uncapped Players in Steve Borthwick’s England Squad for Summer Tour of Japan & New Zealand

Steve Borthwick confirmed his 36-man squad for the 2024 Summer Series of Japan and New Zealand on Monday, with six uncapped players called up to the travelling group. The squad will assemble for a training session at Twickenham Stadium before they fly out to Tokyo on Wednesday.

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There is an exciting contingent of young players in the announced squad, with uncapped contributions from Harlequins, Bristol Bears, Sale Sharks and 2024 Premiership champions Northampton Saints. Some of the hopefuls have been in and amongst the England camp for a matter of years, whilst others have been fast-tracked from the Premiership to a spot in the touring squad after impressing Borthwick in the past few weeks.

Steve Borthwick, Head Coach of England during the England Captains Run at Twickenham Stadium, London on 9 February 2024 (Photo: George Beck/PPAUK)

Here is a run through of the six uncapped players in the England squad, starting with an exciting young wing that has recently won the Premiership title.

1. Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints)

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

It has been a whirlwind 48 hours for Ollie Sleightholme, after the young wing helped Northampton Saints win the 2024 Premiership Final against Bath he has now gotten the call-up for an exciting Summer tour across Japan and New Zealand. The 24-year-old has been in flying form for the Saints this season, with his 16 tries (2024 Premiership best) dutifully earning him his first England camp involvement since the 2021 Autumn Internationals.

Sleightholme’s first taste of an England environment came in the Eddie Jones era, yet the winger was unable to break out of the wider training group whilst the Australian was in charge. In a sense of Sleightholme’s international hopes coming full circle, the Saints man could well mark his England debut against Eddie Jones’ Brave Blossoms, with Tokyo’s National Stadium providing the first stop on the three match tour of Japan and New Zealand.

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

Speaking on calling up the wing, England head coach Steve Borthwick said; “You mention Ollie Sleightholme, clearly his point of difference is to beat defenders and find the tryline. The top try-scorer in the Premiership, has incredible pace and we want that in this England team.

“I’ve spoken to him several times throughout the season. I think that, and we can talk a lot about what he does in the attacking side, he’s beaten such a huge number of defenders, and clearly I want people who have that point of difference of scoring tries. The other thing is he’s a very effective defender.You can see how important this defensive system has been to us, over just five games in the Six Nations. And we see him fitting into that system very, very well.”

2. Fin Baxter (Harlequins)

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 Harlequins and England protégé to Joe Marler, breakthrough loose-head prop Fin Baxter has been named alongside his mentor in the confirmed 36-man squad. Baxter has had an outstanding 2023/24 Premiership season at Quins, having kept both the likes of Marler and Joe Els out of the number one jersey in high profile fixtures. Baxter is amongst those uncapped bolters that were named in the inaugural 19-man squad, and remained in the England camp despite the added arrivals from Saracens, Sale Sharks, Bath and Northampton.

Baxter has featured in 26 fixtures for Quins this season, with 15 starts seeing him secure a claim to the famous quarters. Baxter is certainly the loose-head for the future of the Harlequins front row, and could well return to the Twickenham Stoop a capped international following a Summer on tour in Japan and New Zealand. Baxter has been learning the intricacies of scrumtime under Marler and former Wales prop Adam Jones, who has since taken up a role as Harlequins scrum coach.

Baxter’s raw energy and youthful exuberance has since coupled with the wealth of knowledge from the experienced international props. Baxter spoke to the media in a recent England press conference and discussed his England A camp experiences as he took the fight to Portugal, in what was a pivotal step towards his first England cap.

England A player Alfie Barbeary (Bath Rugby) passes to England A player Fin Baxter (Harlequins) during the International rugby match between England A and Portugal at Mattioli Woods Welford Road on February 25th- PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK

“That was one of my best takeaways from the (England) A game, was meeting all these new lads, playing with new lads. Listening and taking what they had on the table. And with even more boys here from around the Prem has been really cool.

“Today with scrummaging, getting reps with Gabe (Oghre), who I’ve never scrummaged with before, has been really cool. The way he does is slightly different to what we do at Quins, and then taking those notes. Some of that I really love, some of that I don’t. But that’s where the conversation happens. That’s where we kind of find that perfect balance for us as a front row.”