Steve Borthwick believes England only have FIVE guaranteed starters, places up for grabs - Ruck

Steve Borthwick believes England only have FIVE guaranteed starters, places up for grabs

England’s head coach, Steve Borthwick, finds himself at a crossroads with crucial selection dilemmas looming ahead of an exhilarating summer series.

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The journey kicks off with a captivating clash against Japan in Tokyo, followed by two electrifying tests against the formidable All Blacks in New Zealand.

In a historic first, England and the Brave Blossoms will lock horns in Tokyo for the Lipovitan D Challenge Cup on June 22, 2024. Despite having crossed paths three times before, this encounter marks Japan’s maiden opportunity to enjoy home advantage against their English counterparts.

Subsequently, the Roses brace for showdowns against New Zealand in Dunedin on July 6 and at the iconic Eden Park a week later. These encounters promise riveting action as England aims to outshine last year’s Rugby World Cup runner-up.

Assessing the current squad, Borthwick faces pivotal decisions across as many as ten positions with the England boss rotating his squad numerous times through the Six Nations.

Even the stalwart Freddie Steward found himself on the sidelines, replaced by George Furbank in the team.

Below, we delve into the five indisputable starters set to spearhead England’s campaign.

#1. Henry Slade

Henry Slade burst onto the senior rugby scene with a debut against France at Twickenham, a stepping stone to his inclusion in England’s Rugby World Cup 2015 squad, culminating in a memorable try-scoring appearance against Uruguay in the final match.

His journey continued with successive appearances for England, facing Fiji and Argentina in November 2016, and showcasing his versatility in a Six Nations encounter against Italy in February 2017. Throughout the summer of 2017, Slade left an indelible mark on the tour to Argentina, featuring prominently in both matches, and later excelled against the same opposition during the autumn internationals, securing his second try against Samoa.

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

The momentum persisted into 2018, as Slade earned selection for the summer tour, where he started all three matches against South Africa. His consistency led to another call-up in early 2019, participating in all of England’s Six Nations fixtures. Despite overcoming injury hurdles, Slade clinched a spot in the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, making a significant impact off the bench in the final showdown.

Maintaining his form, Slade remained a vital presence in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Championship and recently earned a recall to Steve Borthwick’s squad for the 2024 tournament, once again leaving a lasting impression with his stellar performances.