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The Saracens reaction to curious England rejection of Nick Isiekwe

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Saracens have confirmed that a knock wasn’t the reason why Nick Isiekwe was omitted from the squad of 25 training with England in London this week. The 23-year-old bridged his four-year gap back to his previous Test cap appearance when chosen to start in the Guinness Six Nations opener away to Scotland on February 5 and he followed that up with a second successive start in last Sunday’s win away to Italy in Rome.

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However, it emerged on Tuesday evening when England named their training week squad ahead of the round three game versus Wales on February 27 that Isiekwe had been released back to Saracens by Eddie Jones.

He was the only player who started twice in the opening two rounds of the championship not to be kept on in camp, England opting instead to bring the fit-again Joe Launchbury in as they start their planning for the Twickenham match versus the Welsh. 

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Launchbury had been at England training for two days last week before going back and playing for Wasps in their weekend win over Bath, his third club appearance since a terrible knee injury was suffered last April. 

His last cap for England came in December 2020 as he was also unavailable through injury for last year’s Six Nations, but he now appears to have got the jump on Isiekwe despite the Saracens lock’s efforts these past two weekends at Murrayfield and the Stadio Olimpico.  

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Saracens aren’t sure yet whether they will involve Isiekwe in their league match this Saturday at London Irish but head coach Joe Shaw has given his view on how the second row fared being back on the England scene and how he will react now to the setback of not getting selected for this week’s fallow week camp.  

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“If you are not involved playing for your country I am sure you are going to be disappointed,” said Shaw when quizzed by RugbyPass at his weekly media briefing on Wednesday. “I don’t know what the conversion was with Eddie but Nick will come in like he does every week and his focus just turns to Saracens. 

“He is in this environment and loves this environment loves being with his mates. He has been here for such a long time so when he gets the opportunity to represent us he puts his best foot forward and no doubt that is what he will do in the next couple of days. 

“It [playing for England] will have done him the world of good because ultimately when you are playing at what is the highest level in a competition like the Six Nations, you are not only holding your own you are pushing, you’re leading, you’re doing some things that are taking the team forward. That is going to do his confidence and his maturity the world of good. 

“Being in that England environment with the best players in England and learning from them, that is what Nick does, he learns. He is somebody who has got this appetite to get better and better. He can’t only get better from it.”

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