England’s biggest casualties from their World Cup squad

Though the World Cup ended under three months ago, there has been quite an overhaul by Steve Borthwick ahead of this year’s Guinness Six Nations.

Over half the squad he named on Wednesday did not go to France, as the head coach has started to build for the future.

Some of these changes he would not have wanted- some players have retired, others are injured and others have moved abroad, but his 36-player squad has a new feel to it.

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Courtney Lawes, Ben Youngs and Jonny May have since retired from international rugby, while captain Owen Farrell has stepped down for the time being, but here are the casualties from the World Cup squad:

Prop – Bevan Rodd

The Sale Sharks loosehead has been out with a toe injury since November, which started a mini propping crisis for England in the No1 jersey with Ellis Genge also nursing a hamstring injury (although included in the squad) and Mako Vunipola announcing his international retirement.

Prop – Kyle Sinckler 

“Do I think Kyle Sinckler will be back in the squad at some point in the future? I’m pretty sure he will be and I sense a determination from him to go after the aspects we discussed.” Those were Borthwick’s words after omitting the 68-cap England tighthead, who has suffered from a niggling injury as well as a drop in form.

Hooker – Jack Walker 

An omission that is not necessarily a reflection on Walker’s form, but the return of Luke Cowan-Dickie from a neck injury has just shunted him down the pecking order.

Lock – David Ribbans

Infrequently used by Borthwick at the World Cup, and already had a move to Toulon lined up which makes the South African-born lock ineligible to play for England for the time being.

Lock – George Martin

Suffering with a “minor knee injury” according to his club Leicester Tigers, but will be in camp with England for rehabilitation.

Flanker – Tom Curry

The England, and British & Irish Lions openside is not only set to miss the Six Nations after hip surgery, but could well miss the rest of the season.

Flanker – Lewis Ludlam

The Northampton Saints skipper has been out since November after picking up an ankle injury in a win over Harlequins. He said recently that he is nearing a return, but given the back row reserves England have and the competition for places,  it is hard to keep hold of your place if you are not fully fit.

Flanker – Jack Willis

The former Wasps flanker signed a deal with Toulouse last year until 2026, which puts his England career on ice until then.

No8 – Billy Vunipola 

There was a sense at the World Cup that the tournament was a last hurrah for the 31-year-old Vunipola. He has not underperformed since the World Cup, but is one of the casualties as Borthwick has looked to a more youthful contingent to take England forward.

Scrum-half – Jack van Poortvliet

Another player who will be in camp rehabbing an injury, van Poortvliet is yet to play since picking up an ankle injury before the World Cup.

Centre – Manu Tuilagi 

Currently out with a groin injury, the Sale Sharks star is another member of the contingent that will be rehabbing in camp.

Centre – Joe Marchant 

Another France-based player unavailable for England, Marchant is currently plying his trade in the Top 14 with Stade Francais.

Winger/ fullback – Max Malins 

Malins did not prove to be the most popular choice under Borthwick during the World Cup, and with the likes of George Furbank and Tommy Freeman basically demanding selection with their form with Northampton Saints, someone had to give way.

Winger/ fullback – Anthony Watson

A fourth member of the rehabbing crew in camp, Watson missed the World Cup with a calf injury. He has since returned, but is injured again.

Winger/ fullback – Henry Arundell 

Tipped to be England’s posterboy post-World Cup, Arundell was expected to play in the Six Nations under ‘special circumstances’ after joining France’s Racing 92 following London Irish’s demise last year. But he put an end to his chances of playing in the Six Nations when he signed a new three year deal with the Parisians in December, and temporarily suspended his England career until 2026.

Notable exclusions who were not at the World Cup 

Lock – Rusi Tuima 

Exeter Chiefs’ Fijian-born lock must have been in Borthwick’s thinking, and at the age of 23, will surely feature in the future.

No8 – Alfie Barbeary

The Bath No8 has been in devastating form recently, but he had a disciplinary hearing after the squad was announced (which he has since been banned for three weeks from), which Borthwick admitted factored into his decision.

No8 – Zach Mercer

Was a controversial omission ahead of the World Cup after joining Gloucester from Montpellier, and though he started the season strongly with the Cherry and Whites, a spell on the sidelines after ankle surgery scuppered his chances of really staking a claim to make the England squad.

Winger – Joe Cokanasiga 

The powerhouse on the wing has looked lethal in a resurgent Bath back line this season, but Borthwick ultimately opted for a cohort from Northampton, which is a decision that is hard to criticise.


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