"Tom is in Fantastic Condition" - 5 Talking Points: Steve Borthwick England Squad Announcement for Summer Tour - Page 2 of 3 - Ruck

“Tom is in Fantastic Condition” – 5 Talking Points: Steve Borthwick England Squad Announcement for Summer Tour


Last Kick Drop Goal celebrations from Marcus Smith of England to win the match during the Guinness Six Nations Match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on March 9th 2024. – PHOTO: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The news of George Ford’s withdrawal from the England tour broke yesterday, with the fly half staying at home to recover from an Achilles injury. With the Sale man not on the plane for Japan or New Zealand, Borthwick has named Fin & Marcus Smith as the fly half options, along with cover from versatile backs George Furbank and Henry Slade.

STEVE BORTHWICK: We’ve picked two specialist fly-halves in Marcus and Fin. They are two world class fly-halves.We also have players who can support them, George Furbank has played plenty of minutes at fly-half, as well as Henry Slade.

Fin Smith of Northampton Saints kicks for the posts during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs at Franklins Gardens, Northampton on 12 November 2023. – PHOTO: Patrick Khachfe/PPAUK

“We’re disappointed George (Ford) is unavailable for selection for this series. I expect him to be fit at the start of next season. He should recover from the injury throughout this summer. Any injury to a player is an opportunity for another player. I expect Marcus and Fin to seize the opportunity by producing winning performances.”

“Now, clearly normally I am carrying three fly-halves in the squad, we carried three fly-halves in the World Cup, three fly-halves during the Six Nations. Now this one there’s only two specialist position fly-halves. Clearly that gives them more space.

Marcus Smith of England during the Summer Nations Series Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 12 Aug 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

“I started George Ford in all five of the Six Nations games, clearly there is an opportunity for a different starting fly-half, going to be playing against Japan in 12 days’ time, the opportunity is there for that fly-half to really grab this team and take it forward.

“Always being supported by the other fly-half – that is a key element. You need depth of players and Marcus’s ability… be clear… Marcus is a 10 who can play 15. That gives the ability that potentially there is a situation where Fin and Marcus are on the pitch together.”


Ellis Genge, Captain 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

Ellis Genge also withdrew from the Summer plans, after he tore his left calf on the final fixture of Bristol Bears’ Premiership season. The former England captain joins Ford amongst the injury reserved list, with the vice-captaincy opening up for numerous players on the upcoming tour.

STEVE BORTHWICK: “I am a believer you need a group of leaders, it is never simply down to one person. It just can’t be. It’s up to a group. Maro Itoje is a key leader within our group, we have seen Ben Earl’s emergence as a senior leader.

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

“You see Tom Curry back in the squad. Then there are others throughout the squad, you don’t need to give Dan Cole or Joe Marler any formal leadership title: they lead. You have seen the way Alex Mitchell, Fin Smith, Marcus Smith have led their teams. So we are blessed we have a number of real… a depth of leaders within our group.”

“One thing that has struck me when I have conversations with Joe Marler, Dan Cole, Jamie George… Maro Itoje I am well aware is a bit younger, but he’s very experienced. The excitement they have to be involved now and to go on this series to different countries in two different hemispheres, it rubs off on everybody else. It rubs off on me, and all the coaches.

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

Jamie in camp last week was excellent in helping galvanise a new group together, and that’s one of his greatest strengths – he glues people together.”