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Steve Borthwick updates his England Rugby World Cup squad

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England boss Steve Borthwick has updated his Rugby World Cup squad, confirming on Sunday that Jonny May will travel to France next Thursday as the replacement for the unavailable Anthony Watson.


Elliot Daly and Henry Arundell remain part of the squad, though, as does George Martin despite their respective knocks which cast various levels of doubts over their participation.

Borthwick had originally named his 33 on August 7, two days after the Summer Nations Series defeat to Wales in Cardiff.

It was the following Saturday when Jack van Poortvliet pulled up lame in the rematch with the Welsh in London, his ankle requiring an operation which resulted in the call-up of Alex Mitchell.

Then last Thursday, Watson, who had started in the August 19 defeat to Ireland in Dublin, was ruled out of the finals due to a calf injury sustained in that match.


May, who had continued to train with the England squad despite not making the initial 33, was named in the XV to start against Fiji.

He went on to score in that game at Twickenham on Saturday and despite England losing 22-30, the winger has now been officially named as the replacement for Watson.


Borthwick had a number of other additional players in camp last week, namely Joe Cokanasiga as it had emerged that Daly was reportedly a major concern due to the knee injury he suffered against the Irish.

Another back three doubt was Arundell, who was described as having a “freak back spasm”, but both he and Daly were cleared by the medics, as was Martin, and they all stay in the 33 for the finals which begin with the September 9 pool match versus Argentina in Marseille.

A statement read: “England men’s head coach Steve Borthwick has confirmed his official 33-player squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

“Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby) and Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints) are included in the squad replacing Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers) and Anthony Watson.”


England’s official 2023 Rugby World Cup squad
Forwards (19):
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 11 caps)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 102 caps)***
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 45 caps)*
Theo Dan (Saracens, 3 cap)
Ben Earl (Saracens, 18 caps)
Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 52 caps)*
Jamie George (Saracens, 79 caps)**
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 70 caps)*
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 100 caps)***
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 21 caps)*
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 82 caps)**
George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps)
David Ribbans (Toulon, 8 caps)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 3 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 63 caps)*
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 29 caps)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 70 caps)**
Jack Walker (Harlequins, 4 caps)
Jack Willis (Toulouse, 13 caps)

Backs (14):
Henry Arundell (Racing 92, 8 caps)
Danny Care (Harlequins, 90 caps)*
Elliot Daly (Saracens, 59 caps)*
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 107 caps)**
George Ford (Sale Sharks, 85 caps)**
Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 14 caps)
Max Malins (Bristol Bears, 21 caps)
Joe Marchant (Stade Francais, 19 caps)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 73 caps)**
Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 24 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 26 caps)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 53 caps)**
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 124 caps)***
*denotes number of Rugby World Cup tournaments played


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Jon 2 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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