Steve Borthwick’s starting XV undone against Scotland

Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith - Andrew Boyers/Action Images

Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith – Andrew Boyers/Action Images

Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith had both started in England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland, but again the much-publicised Ashes failed as the hosts lost their first back-to-back games at Twickenham to the Scots.

In his first game at the helm, Steve Borthwick opted to ring the back row changes, with Lewis Ludlam, Ben Curry and Alex Dombrant completing a new striker that also featured Leicester second-row Ollie Chessum.

Ludlum shone – his activity in the park gave England a good attacking platform that they couldn’t capitalize on – but Curry, making his first England appearance since 2021, struggled to replicate his fine club form that earned him his starting spot. If anyone is vulnerable to being ripped off, it’s the Sale man.

The return of Max Malins on the wing was a bright spot in a losing day for the hosts, as the Saracen speedster scored twice – one a brilliant shot from a Smith crossfield kick.

Who is on England’s Six Nations squad?


Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, five caps)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 95 caps)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, one cap)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, nine international matches)
Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby, three caps)
Ben Earl (Saracen, 13 caps)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 43 caps)
Jamie George (Saracen, 72 caps)
Nick Isiekwe (Saracen, eight international matches)
Maro Itoje (Saracen, 62 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 14 caps)
David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, three caps)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 56 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracen, 74 caps)
Jack Walker (Harlequins, capped)


Owen Farrell (Saracen, 101 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, three caps)
Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish, unlimited)
Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, seven caps)
Max Malins (Saracen, 14 caps)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 13 caps)
Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, capped)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 17 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 17 caps)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 50 caps)
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, seven international matches)
Anthony Watson (Leicester Tigers, 51 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 121 caps)

Who went wrong?

The main omissions from the Borthwick team are Jack Nowell, Jonny May and Billy Vunipola – all of whom played major roles during Eddie Jones’ tenure.

Their respective non-selection is the clearest indication yet of the new regime’s departure from the old, as Borthwick look forward to new talent who have shown top form for their clubs.

Other notable names that should not be missed are Alex Coles, Hugh Tizzard, Val Rapava Ruskin, Joe Cokanasiga and George Furbank.

Who’s injured?

As always, Borthwick has been forced to rule out certain names due to injuries.

It is likely that starters such as flanker Tom Curry and Luke Cowan-Dickie are both injured, with the latter ruled out of the tournament.

Courtney Lawes will continue to lead his rehabilitation with the squad and Henry Slade will do the same. Both miss the opening round against Scotland.

Hooker is a problem position for Borthwick with George McGuigan and Jack Singleton joining Cowan-Dickie on the injury list. Tighthead prop Will Stuart is also unavailable.

George Ford has yet to play for his new side Sale, but is expected to return to action soon, while, in more positive news, London Irish flyer Henry Arundell and Sale scrum half Raffi Quirke have already done so.

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