Steve Borthwick explains why he has continued to drop 'England's best player' - Ruck

Steve Borthwick explains why he has continued to drop ‘England’s best player’

Steve Borthwick clarified his decision to maintain George Furbank as England’s full-back against Ireland, opting against reinstating Freddie Steward.

Despite Steward’s impressive performance against Wales, Borthwick chose to stick with Furbank, who surprised many with his selection last month against Scotland after a two-year absence from Test matches.

“George is a player who has played really well this season and you saw aspects in that game where he was bringing all his talent onto that pitch. You saw the way he carried the ball back.

“There was one moment there when he gave an offload and he went to ground. The critical thing was, was it the right decision to give an offload? I thought it absolutely was, we weren’t reading off him.

“Part of that is players having time playing together, understanding when a player is going to make an offload, when a player is going to do something.

“That comes from spending time together and playing together and understanding each other that bit more.”

“All Blacks-bound” – Five England players set to swap nations after falling out of favour 

World Rugby’s latest eligibility rules have opened up the door for several prominent England players to potentially switch allegiances to different countries. 

Under these new regulations, players can become eligible to represent another nation if they refrain from Test rugby for three years and have a birth connection to the desired country or through a parent or grandparent.

While the decision to switch national teams remains speculative, there are five players who could be considering such a move. Additionally, there are other notable names, such as Sam Underhill and Manu Tuilagi, who could also potentially swap nations. Underhill could opt for the USA, while Tuilagi may consider representing Samoa, given their respective birthplaces.

Furthermore, the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, might contemplate switching to Tonga, the birthplace of their father, under these new eligibility laws.

#1. Ollie Hassell-Collins (Wales)

The Leicester Tigers winger, who was given his debut by Borthwick in 2023, has expressed his willingness to potentially represent Wales in 2026.

Despite earning two caps for England during last year’s Six Nations, the 25-year-old hasn’t been included in Steve Borthwick’s squad since then. Notably, he was absent from England A’s recent triumph over Portugal.

Ahead of this year’s Six Nations, Gatland had mentioned Hassell-Collins several times, especially during the discussion surrounding another dual-qualified winger, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

“I have seen Gatland’s interview,” Hassell-Collins told the Telegraph.

“I’ve got two caps for England, and obviously I’m English. But if I don’t see anything in the next few years then it’s definitely something that I would consider.

“I would qualify [for Wales] the year of the World Cup – that is, if he still wants me. Wales is still part of who I am.

“My grandma was Welsh and I still have family over there. It’s still a part of me – and I’d never turn it down – but for now it’s England for me.”