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Marcus Smith named in latest 36-strong England squad

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

England coach Steve Borthwick has kept his promise to Marcus Smith, naming the out-half in the squad for next weekend’s Guinness Six Nations round four clash with France at Twickenham. The exclusion of Smith from last week’s 26-man training squad – and the inclusion of George Ford in his place – raised many eyebrows last Tuesday when that decision was publicly confirmed.


However, at the time Borthwick insisted he would be naming Smith on Sunday in the squad to prepare for the French and he has been true to his word following the player’s impressive performance for Harlequins in their 40-5 Gallagher Premiership win over Exeter.

“It was my decision that I then discussed with Marcus where I said the best thing for you to do is to play the game this weekend, go and play really well for your club in a big game this weekend,” explained Borthwick last Tuesday about his decision to omit Smith from the 26-man squad that trained in Brighton for two and a half days, freeing him up to instead play for Harlequins in their Premiership win over Exeter.

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“He has had limited game time the last two, three weeks. When we reassemble on Sunday, Marcus will be back in the squad and he understands the thing I want him to have is that match sharpness which is really important for him.”

An RFU statement on Sunday evening read: “Steve Borthwick has selected a 36-player squad for England’s game against France in the Guinness Six Nations. The squad has met up today at the Honda England Rugby Performance Centre at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot as they begin preparations for Saturday’s match at Twickenham Stadium. There is a return to the squad for Joe Heyes.”


Heyes is one of three changes in total from the 36 that Borthwick named a fortnight ago at the start of the match week round three game versus Wales. The Leicester tighthead is recalled in place of Bath’s Will Stuart. Tom Curry was also named in the squad a fortnight ago only to pull out the following day through injury, with his place going to twin brother Ben who went on to play off the bench in Cardiff.


The only change in the round four squad backs compare to the round three selection is the inclusion of Manu Tuilagi in place of Fraser Dingwall. Tuilagi, of course, remains suspended and won’t be available for team selection until the following week’s round five match away to Ireland.

Ollie Hassell-Collins, the left-wing starter for England in their opening matches versus Scotland and Italy, dropped out of the squad two weeks ago due to a knee injury and his place versus Wales went to Anthony Watson.

Hassell-Collins has since regained fitness and was a try-scorer on Sunday for London Irish in their Premiership win at Newcastle. However, that performance wasn’t enough to get him back into the England fold to face the French.

England squad (vs France, Saturday)
Forwards (20)
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 8 caps)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 98 caps)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, 3 caps)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 12 caps)
Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
Ben Earl (Saracens, 15 caps)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 46 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 75 caps)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps)
Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 10 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 65 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 97 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 17 caps)
David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 59 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 77 caps)
Jack Walker (Harlequins, 2 caps)
Jack Willis (Toulouse, 8 caps)


BACKS (16)
Henry Arundell (London Irish, 5 caps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 104 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)
George Ford (Sale Sharks, 81 caps)
Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)
Max Malins (Saracens, 17 caps)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 14 caps)
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)
Cadan Murley (Harlequins, uncapped)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 54 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 20 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 20 caps)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 50 caps)
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 10 caps)
Anthony Watson (Leicester Tigers, 53 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 122 caps)


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