Home News England World Cup Roster: Plenty for Steve Borthwick to Mull Over

England World Cup Roster: Plenty for Steve Borthwick to Mull Over

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Steve Borthwick World Cup squad selection

England’s loss to Wales may prove to be a “benefit” in the long run, according to head coach Steve Borthwick.

Although Borthwick admitted to having a firm grasp on the majority of his World Cup lineup ahead of the summer’s initial game in Cardiff, the defeat by Wales at the Principality Stadium would have undoubtedly left the England coach with much to contemplate.

Despite an optimistic start, England unfortunately faltered in their 20-9 loss to Wales – with 12 entries to the 22 without a try – and their performance noticeably declined in the second half; a repeated storyline.

However, it is still early, and by announcing his final 33-man lineup as soon as Monday morning, Borthwick is focusing on developing unity and team dynamics throughout August, rather than stressing over squad selections.

Long-term benefits are expected from the defeat – Borthwick.
Wales defeats England in Cardiff

Unlike his predecessor, Eddie Jones, who only included two tighthead props, two scrum-halves, and two fly-halves in the 2019 Japan tour, Borthwick has made clear he won’t be taking any risks in specialized roles, implying he’ll include nine front-row forwards and six half-backs in his lineup.

The only decision he needs to make at prop is whether Mako Vunipola is in good enough shape to be chosen, while at hooker – with Jamie George already confirmed – he will choose two among Jamie Blamire, newbie Theo Dan, and Jack Walker, another player nursing an injury. For the tighthead prop, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, and Dan Cole are all expected to make the Eurostar.

The main area of contention is the back five of the scrum, with a significant amount of competition. Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum, if fit, are almost certain selections. George Martin, capable of playing as a lock or flanker, is likely to make the cut. Jonny Hill and David Ribbans will nervously await the final decision on Sunday.

In the flanker position, Courtney Lawes, who can also fill in as a lock, and Tom Curry – despite an unsteady ankle – are assured selections. The adaptable Lewis Ludlam is almost certain to be selected for the tournament in France, commencing on 8 September.

Jack Willis offers a unique approach at the breakdown and stood out for champions Toulouse in the Top 14. Ben Earl’s status is uncertain but could be a wildcard who gained from his absence in Cardiff. Conversely, Tom Pearson started strong against Wales but waned, getting outplayed by Jac Morgan.

Billy Vunipola, despite his injury, will likely be selected for the number eight position, with the final decision between Tom Willis and Alex Dombrandt.

Even with an abundance of scrum-half options, Borthwick has kept only three nines in the summer camp. Therefore, Ben Youngs, Jack van Poortvliet, and Danny Care are all expected to make the team.

Accompanying them, team captain Owen Farrell, George Ford, and Marcus Smith will all be selected, although Saturday provided additional evidence that the England strategy doesn’t align with Smith’s strong suits.

In the midfield, Ollie Lawrence and Manu Tuilagi will be selected as power options. It would be a significant surprise if Henry Slade is left out. Joe Marchant, one of the better performers in Cardiff who can also play wing, will likely be selected. Elliot Daly is almost guaranteed to be selected, with Guy Porter likely not making the cut.

The back three selection will be challenging as Borthwick balances form, experience, and game-changers. Jonny May and Anthony Watson, the 2019 starting wingers, are in contention following a fluctuating couple of years. Joe Cokanasiga is physically imposing but made errors at the Principality.

Max Malins is a talented player but is positioned on the wing when he may be better suited to full-back. Henry Arundell is inexperienced but offers unique speed; can Borthwick afford to leave him behind, given England’s struggles with try scoring? Freddie Steward is certain for full-back.

Borthwick discussed the selections with his assistants on Saturday evening in Cardiff before addressing the players on Sunday morning as the team was cut from 43 to 33.

The squad may include up to 20 members from the 2019 team, indicating a potential high-quality, experienced team for the tournament.

However, there are worries about whether these players have improved since four years ago, considering England’s inconsistent performance throughout the World Cup cycle.

The Cardiff game also demonstrated that there are significant areas that need improvement in terms of precision and fluidity.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Steve Borthwick World Cup squad selection

Who is the head coach of the England Rugby team for the World Cup?

Steve Borthwick is the head coach of the England Rugby team for the World Cup.

How is the coach’s selection strategy different from his predecessor’s?

Unlike his predecessor Eddie Jones, Steve Borthwick won’t be taking risks in specialized roles, implying he’ll include more players in positions like front-row forwards and half-backs.

Who are some of the key players expected to be in the squad?

Key players expected to be in the squad include Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, and Manu Tuilagi among others.

When is the final squad expected to be announced?

The final 33-man squad is expected to be announced as early as the Monday morning following the game against Wales.

When and where does the tournament commence?

The tournament commences on 8th September in France.

What is the concern about the players who were part of the 2019 squad?

There are concerns about whether these players have improved since four years ago, given England’s inconsistent performance throughout the World Cup cycle.

More about Steve Borthwick World Cup squad selection

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RugbyFan101 August 7, 2023 - 5:09 am

That was a tough loss for England. But, am hopin’ Borthwick makes the right calls for the squad, we’ve got potential if used right!

ScrumMaster August 7, 2023 - 5:47 am

Not convinced with some of Borthwick’s choices. Really? More players in specialized roles? Eddie Jones strategy was better, IMO.

ScoringSam August 7, 2023 - 6:35 am

Borthwick better not leave out Henry Arundell. We need his speed given England’s try-scoring struggles recently.

LockAndLoad August 7, 2023 - 10:46 am

Can’t wait for the official squad announcement! Fingers crossed for Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum!

TackleTim August 7, 2023 - 2:07 pm

What about Joe Marchant? Dude was one of the brighter performers in Cardiff…deserves a spot in the team for sure.

TouchdownTommy August 7, 2023 - 3:20 pm

Our form was really lacking in the game against Wales. Need to up our game if we wanna make it deep into the tournament.


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