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England pick 6 uncapped players for tour of Japan and New Zealand

By Josh Raisey
Gabriel Oghre, Rusi Tuima, Fin Baxter and Ethan Roots prepare to scrummage during an England Training session at Pennyhill Park on May 29, 2024 in Bagshot, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England head coach Steve Borthwick has named six uncapped players in his 36-player squad to travel to Japan and New Zealand, with the Gallagher Premiership’s top try scorer Ollie Sleightholme making the cut.

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The five other uncapped players that join Sleightholme in the squad are Sale Sharks back-three duo Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck, Harlequins loosehead prop Fin Baxter and his teammate centre Luke Northmore, and finally Bristol Bears hooker Gabriel Oghre.

England face Japan in Tokyo on June 22, which will be shown live and for free on RugbyPass TV, before heading to New Zealand for a two-match series against the All Blacks in July.

The squad has been bolstered by the inclusion of Northampton and Bath players following the Premiership final on Saturday, where the Saints came away victorious.

Lock Alex Coles is the only Saints addition in Borthwick’s selection of 20 forwards, while Fraser Dingwall, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Alex Mitchell, Ollie Sleightholme and Fin Smith join the 16-strong cohort of backs.

Fixture
Internationals
Japan
17 - 52
Full-time
England
All Stats and Data

Three Bath forwards have joined the squad- lock Charlie Ewels, tighthead Will Stuart and flanker Sam Underhill off the back of a sensational defensive performance at Twickenham. Scrumhalf Ben Spencer and centre Ollie Lawrence are the two additions to the backs. Their club teammate Ted Hill can perhaps count himself unlucky after another barnstorming performance in the final.

Hill’s back row teammate Alfie Barbeary is another player who has missed out after knocking on the door for selection this season. The No8 was subbed off early in the final due to Beno Obano’s red card, depriving him of a chance to impress the selectors. Borthwick may have also taken preemptive action by omitting loosehead Obano, with a ban expected to follow.

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The announcement comes a day after it was confirmed that fly-half George Ford will miss the tour due to a pre-existing Achilles injury. Borthwick has not opted to call up another No10 option in his squad though, and will depend on both Marcus Smith and Fin Smith, with Furbank and Henry Slade also capable of covering the position.

“The Summer Series presents a valuable opportunity for the continued development of this squad and is a demanding challenge to conclude the season,” said Borthwick.

“For some of the younger players, it will be their first time touring abroad with England. Travelling together is a great way to build closer bonds and provides an important opportunity for new players to settle into our environment.”

“With the changes in climate, playing conditions, and contrasting styles of rugby from the two opponents we face, we will be challenged on and off the field.

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“The National Stadium in Tokyo is an incredible venue for Test match rugby, and we will need to be at our very best against a Japanese team who will want to play fast.

“New Zealand’s home record is well documented, and we face a team who came within one point of winning a World Cup.

“Historically it is not a place England have had much success, but we are determined to change that. The players know that they will need to be mentally strong and tactically smart if we are to get the result we want.”

England squad
Forwards
Fin Baxter (Harlequins, uncapped)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 112 caps)
Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)
Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, 4 caps)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, 5 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 50 caps)
Theo Dan (Saracens, 12 caps)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 17 caps)
Ben Earl (Saracens, 30 caps)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 30 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 90 caps) – captain
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 81 caps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 93 caps)
George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 12 caps)
Gabriel Oghre (Bristol Bears, uncapped)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 5 caps)
Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 38 caps)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)

Backs
Joe Carpenter (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 8 caps)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 9 caps)
Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 15 caps)
Luke Northmore (Harlequins, uncapped)
Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 6 caps)
Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 62 caps)
Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 32 caps)
Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps)

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5 Comments
f
finn 15 days ago

Flabbergasted that Langdon hasn’t been included. Not sure why Oghre has been included over him.

I had hoped to see Tuima and Moon selected. We could do with another big tighthead lock to backup Martin, and with Earl starting at 8, Roots and Cunngham-South also able to cover 8, and Barbeary and Fisilau likely to break though in the next few years, its not clear if we need to still be investing in Dombrandt, so he could have been dropped to allow another locking option.

I also would have gone for Pearson over Ben Curry, but appreciate its a marginal call.

At scrum half I think its a massive shame we’re not going to see JVP in action. He’s a massive talent. I’m on the record as saying I think Cairns should have been the 3rd scrum half selected, but with JVP out of the picture I think the duo of Spencer and Randall is pretty good as backup to Mitchell.

Not sure why Northmore and Carpenter are in the squad. At fullback the pecking order goes (1) Furbank; (2) Steward; and then arguably (3) and (4) would be Marcus Smith and Tommy Freeman, so its not clear what Carpenter adds. Similarly at 13 Northmore is unlikely to get a look-in ahead of Slade, Lawrence, & Dingwall, and might also be behind Freeman. Given we lack any specialist 12s, I would have liked to see someone like Seb Atkinson get picked, and if we dropped both Northmore and Carpenter that could allow both Tuima and Moon in in the forwards.

Finally, its hard to question the selection of Tom Roebuck, but given that Roebuck, Feyi-Waboso, Freeman, and Sleightholme are all primarily 14s, I wonder if there’s an argument that Murley could have been included instead of Roebuck as he is a specialist left wing? I appreicate not many people will agree with me on this given that Freeman and Sleightholme can both do a good job at 11, but they are different roles and it is good to select specialists where possible.

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Mzilikazi 2 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 4 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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