Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

George Furbank starts for axed Steward as England make five changes

By Liam Heagney
George Furbank, who has taken Freddie Steward's England place (Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Freddie Steward has been dropped by England boss Steve Borthwick for the second time in six games. The full-back was originally axed for last October’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final win over Fiji in Marseille, the No15 shirt being worn instead by Marcus Smith.

ADVERTISEMENT

Steward bounced back to retake the jersey from the injured Smith for the following weekend’s semi-final against South Africa.

However, despite impressing with his aerial game in the recent Guinness Six Nations win over Wales at Twickenham, he has now been omitted from the match day 23 for this Saturday’s round three game away to Scotland.

Video Spacer

Handre Pollard on that RWC semifinal and Pieter-Steph du Toit’s inspiring speech | RPTV

Double World Cup-winning Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard lifts the lid on a crucial half-time chat during last year’s RWC in France. Watch the full interview exclusively on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

Video Spacer

Handre Pollard on that RWC semifinal and Pieter-Steph du Toit’s inspiring speech | RPTV

Double World Cup-winning Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard lifts the lid on a crucial half-time chat during last year’s RWC in France. Watch the full interview exclusively on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

The surprise naming of the 27-year-old George Furbank as the starting full-back for his first cap since 2022 is one of five changes to the starting line-up despite England going two wins from two in the opening rounds of the Six Nations for the first time since 2019.

Their recent 16-14 victory over Wales was the first time since the World Cup five years ago in Japan that England had fielded an unchanged team from one match to the next.

Fixture
Six Nations
Scotland
30 - 21
Full-time
England
All Stats and Data

However, having shown faith in his starting XV at the start of the current championship moving from Rome to London, the Borthwick outlook is now very different heading to Edinburgh.

Aside from including Furbank at No15 for just his seventh Test cap, a decision that was purely a selection call and not because of an injury to Steward, Borthwick has also named the fit-again Ollie Lawrence rather than Manu Tuilagi as the starting inside centre.

ADVERTISEMENT

Fraser Dingwall, a try-scorer versus the Welsh, drops out while the knee injury to Alex Mitchell has seen his place as the starting scrum-half given to the promoted Danny Care.

In the pack, the two changes to the starting line-up are at prop where Ellis Genge and Dan Cole are promoted from the bench to start in place of Joe Marler and Will Stuart, who will both act as replacements at BT Murrayfield.

Two fresh reserves, other than Marler and Stuart, are the fit-again George Martin, who takes over from Alex Coles, while the promoted Care’s spot is taken by Ben Spencer.

Borthwick said in an RFU team announcement statement: “We are pleased with the start we have made to our Guinness Six Nations campaign but know that a difficult test awaits us in Edinburgh against an in-form Scotland team.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The atmosphere is always special for any Calcutta Cup match and I’m sure this weekend’s game at Murrayfield will be no different. This group of players are looking forward to the challenge on Saturday and to creating some very special memories.”

Scotland earlier named a team with three changes from their round two loss to France. Blair Kinghorn and Kyle Steyn were included at full-back and right wing respectively in place of Harry Paterson and Kyle Rowe, while Jamie Ritchie was recalled in place of Matt Fagerson at blindside.

England (vs Scotland, Saturday)
15. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)
14. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 59 caps)
12. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 21 caps)
11. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 66 caps)
10. George Ford (Sale Sharks, 93 caps) – vice-captain
9. Danny Care (Harlequins, 98 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 59 caps) – vice-captain
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 87 caps) – captain
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 109 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 78 caps) – vice-captain
5. Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 20 caps)
6. Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps)
7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 32 caps)
8. Ben Earl (Saracens, 27 caps)

Replacements:
16. Theo Dan (Saracens, 9 caps)
17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 90 caps)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)
19. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 9 caps)
20. Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, 2 caps)
21. Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)
22. Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)
23. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, 1 cap)

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

Chasing The Sun | Series 1 Episode 1

Fresh Starts | Episode 1 | Will Skelton

ABBIE WARD: A BUMP IN THE ROAD

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 9

James Cook | The Big Jim Show | Full Episode

New Zealand victorious in TENSE final | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Men's Highlights

New Zealand crowned BACK-TO-BACK champions | Cathay/HSBC Sevens Day Three Women's Highlights

Japan Rugby League One | Bravelupus v Steelers | Full Match Replay

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

P
Poorfour 10 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

18 Go to comments
TRENDING
TRENDING Jean Kleyn's season ending injury could be worse than first thought Jean Kleyn's season ending injury worse than thought
Search