George Ford and Tom Curry out as Borthwick cuts England squad to 26
Steve Borthwick has cut his England squad from 36 to 26 players ahead of Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match away to Wales, releasing the likes of George Ford back to their clubs for Gallagher Premiership action. Tom Curry also misses out with a leg issue, a situation that has resulted in his twin brother Ben – who had been axed – getting called back into the squad.
It was last Sunday when the head coach, fresh from the February 12 home win over Italy, named his 36-strong, start-of-the-week round three squad that included recalls for the fit-again Tom Curry, Ford and vice-captain Courtney Lawes.
Uncapped duo Fraser Dingwall and Cadan Murley were also named in a list that didn’t include Ollie Hassell-Collins, as the left-wing starter versus Scotland and the Italians had picked up a knee issue.
Now, following two days of training at Pennyhill, Borthwick has trimmed his squad down to 14 forwards and 12 backs, retaining the likes of Lawes and Murley but releasing others such as Ben Earl – a used replacement last time out versus Italy – and Ben Youngs, the most capped England men’s player of all time.
The seven pack players surplus to requirement for this weekend were back-rowers Curry, Earl and Sam Simmonds, lock David Ribbans, props Bevan Rodd and Will Stuart and hooker Tom Dunn – with Ben Curry earning his midweek inclusion at the expense of his now-injured brother. In the backs, Dingwall, Tommy Freeman, Ford and Youngs all miss out.
An RFU statement read: “Steve Borthwick has retained a 26-player England squad for this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations match against Wales. Tom Curry has withdrawn from the squad with a leg issue. Ben Curry has been called up and has trained today [Tuesday] at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot.”
Regarding the availability of the fit-again Lawes, defence coach Kevin Sinfield later added: “Aside from his playing ability, Courtney gets more out of the players around him. There aren’t that many players in world rugby who have that influence across the team. He has certainly got it.
“He has got a real presence – he is physical, he’s tough and he’s very, very mobile for a big man. All things being well, he should be there at the weekend.”
England squad (vs Wales, Saturday – 4:45pm)
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 97 caps)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 11 caps)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 45 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 74 caps)
Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 10 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 64 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 96 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 16 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 58 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 76 caps)
Jack Walker (Harlequins, 1 cap)
Jack Willis (Toulouse, 7 caps)
Henry Arundell (London Irish, 4 caps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 103 caps)
Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 9 caps)
Max Malins (Saracens, 16 caps)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 14 caps)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)
Cadan Murley (Harlequins, uncapped)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 53 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 19 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 19 caps)
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps)
Anthony Watson (Leicester Tigers, 52 caps)
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