Farrell captain, Vunipola and May ruled out: Borthwick’s strong picks for the Tournament

Appointed in December to wake up a moribund XV of the Rose under Eddie Jones, Steve Borthwick was expected this Monday with his very first list. Among the legitimate questions, the identity of its captain has been revealed.

Owen Farrell saved at the start of last week by the RFU Disciplinary Committee, which imposed a relatively lenient sanction – in view of his dangerous tackle against Gloucester – of 4 weeks reduced to 3 with a period of improvement of his technique tackle to allow him to start the Tournament, the Sarries centurion (101 caps) was in the equation with Northampton flanker Courtney Lawes and Bristol pillar Ellis Genge and quite logically won the bet. Will he play opener or first center, associated with the nugget of Harlequins Marcus Smith? We will have to wait a little longer before we find out.

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Vunipola, May and Nowell, missing from the list

What is certain is that he will not have his club partner Billy Vunipola (68 caps) by his side. A real thunderbolt across the Channel given the pedigree of the powerful third center line, installed for more than 10 years in selection and still holder in the final of the last World Cup lost by England against South Africa.

Billy Vunipola against the Australian team on July 9.

Credit: Icon Sport

Same observation for Gloucester winger Jonny May (32), second best try scorer in the history of XV de la Rose (35 tries in 72 selections), whose absence of 36 will not fail to sink a lot of ink in the country. To a lesser extent, Exeter winger Jack Nowell (45 caps) is also a notable absentee from this list.

Five new and one returning

If he voluntarily deprives himself of these three seasoned players, Borthwick has in return chosen to recall veteran Dan Cole (35) who has not been seen in the English jersey since his ordeal in the scrum during the Cup final World Cup 2019. Also note the integration of five neophytes into the squad: forwards George McGuigan (Gloucester) and Jack Walker (Harlequins) and backs Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish), Cadan Murley and Fin Smith (Northampton) .

Dan Cole suffering in the scrum in the 2019 World Cup final

Credit: Getty Images

“It’s an exciting group, with a mix of experience and young talent, including some very fit Premiership players,” commented Steve Borthwick. England will start their Tournament on February 4 in Wales.

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