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England quash concerns over inclusion of Maro Itoje and Tom Curry

By PA
Maro Itoje and Tom Curry /PA

England are comfortable taking Tom Curry and Maro Itoje on their summer tour to Japan and New Zealand after rejecting concerns over their involvement.

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The Lions forwards both told head coach Steve Borthwick they want to be part of the 36-man squad that departs for Tokyo on Wednesday.

Curry has played just 34 minutes since the World Cup after recovering from a career-threatening hip injury, which he described as a “car crash”, in time to make a cameo appearance in Sale’s Premiership play-off defeat by Bath on June 1.

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Following surgery, the 25-year-old had to relearn how to walk and run amid a warning from Sharks boss Alex Sanderson that if he was in action this summer, it would “take away games from the back end of his career – guaranteed”.

But Borthwick insists the all-action flanker has been cleared to take on the Brave Blossoms and All Blacks.

Fixture
Internationals
Japan
01:50
22 Jun 24
England
All Stats and Data

“Firstly, Tom is a world-class player. Anybody who watched the semi-final against Bath when he came off the bench will have seen the impact he had,” Borthwick said.

“Every report I’ve had from the medical and S&C (strength and conditioning) teams at Sale and England says Tom is in fantastic physical condition and I saw in camp last week how energised he is. Player welfare is vital to us.

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“Most importantly was the conversation I had with Tom. He’s desperate to be a part of this England team and wants to play in these games.

“Because of that and the fact he’s world class, it was a very straight forward decision.”

Itoje’s case is different with the Saracens lock having just 102 minutes left of the 2,400-minute seasonal limit imposed on each player under a welfare initiative agreed by the Rugby Players’ Association, the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby.

“There are a number of factors to consider. Clearly game minutes and game involvements are a couple of measures,” Borthwick said.

“There are also factors around training volumes, training loads and the recovery periods that players have. Most importantly is the conversation with the player himself.

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“Another factor is considering what the players have post this series. Maro Itoje has a 10-week period where he will not be involved in any pre-season games at club level.

“Maro Itoje is similar to Tom Curry – ‘I want to play, I’m desperate to play’. He’s a key leader for us, an exceptional player and he wants to be a part of this team for this series.”

George Ford sits out the tour following a recurrence of the Achilles injury he sustained in 2022, setting up a straight shoot-out between Fin Smith and Marcus Smith at fly-half.

Borthwick has opted to take just two playmakers, leaving Charlie Atkinson at home with George Furbank and Henry Slade providing cover for the number 10 jersey.

“Fin has progressed in a relatively short time with the consistent performances he’s put in for Northampton, marshalling his team around the pitch in hard-fought games. He’s been excellent,” Borthwick said.

“Marcus is an experienced international. To have two players like that at our disposal is terrific and I’m looking forward to working with them this summer.

“I started George Ford in all five of the Six Nations games so clearly there is an opportunity for one of them to really grab this team and take it forward, while being supported by the other fly-half.

“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.”

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1 Comment
T
T-Bone 8 days ago

Big challenge to overcome these two and Underhill
They ate the ABs up in 2019 but that was a while ago of course

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