Steve Borthwick picks three debutants in experimental England team to face Wales – live reaction

Tom Willis in training at Pennyhill Park

Tom Willis in training at Pennyhill Park – Getty Images/David Rogers

12:03 PM BST

Shoot-outs? What shoot-outs?

I know Wigglesworth said yesterday that there were no shoot-outs for selection… but there do appear to be a few. Joe Marchant and Guy Porter are potential utility backs, Jamie Blamire and Theo Dan are potential reserve hookers, Alex Dombrandt and Tom Willis are gunning for a similar role. Very, very interesting stuff.

12:00 PM BST

England team to face Wales

Well, there are some talking points.

  • Ellis Genge captains the side in the absence of both Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes

  • Tom Pearson wins a Test debut at openside flanker

  • Theo Dan and Tom Willis poised to do the same from the bench

  • As reported by my colleague Gavin Mairs, Marcus Smith starts at fly-half

  • Alex Dombrandt and Danny Care join him in a Harlequins 8-9-10

  • George Martin and David Ribbans start at lock

  • Centre partnership of Guy Porter and Joe Marchant

15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 22 caps)

14. Max Malins (Bristol Bears, 18 caps) 

13. Joe Marchant (Stade Francais, 15 caps)

12. Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, 4 caps)  

11. Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 14 caps)

10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 21 caps) 

9. Danny Care (Harlequins, 87 caps)  

1. Ellis Genge © (Bristol Bears, 48 caps)

2. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 6 caps)

3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 25 caps)

4. David Ribbans (Toulon, 5 caps)

5. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap) 

6. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 19 caps) 

7. Tom Pearson (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

8. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 14 caps)


16. Theo Dan (Saracens, uncapped)

17. Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)

18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 61 caps)

19. Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks, 19 caps)

20. Tom Willis (Saracens, uncapped)

21. Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 12 caps) 

22. George Ford (Sale Sharks, 81 caps)

23. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 56 caps)

11:55 AM BST

Captain Morgan

In case you missed it, Warren Gatland has picked a green team for Wales. Jac Morgan is captaining from openside flanker and Sam Costelow will be at fly-half. Here is James Corrigan on that line-up.


Jac Morgan will lead Wales at the weekend – PA

11:52 AM BST

Ten minutes to go

We hear that there may be some reluctance to field those who played in the Premiership final. Taking those players out of the equation, George Martin and Tom Pearson are potentially exciting inclusions. Abrasive and athletic, they could energise England.

11:46 AM BST

Rewind to 2019

This was the team that Eddie Jones selected for England’s first warm-up game of the 2019. Wales were the opponents again, although the game was at Twickenham. Willi Heinz was vice-captain on Test debut, if I remember correctly.

1 Ellis Genge

2 Luke Cowan-Dickie

3 Dan Cole

4 Joe Launchbury

5 Charlie Ewels

6 Lewis Ludlam

7 Tom Curry

8 Billy Vunipola

9 Willi Heinz

10 George Ford (captain)

11 Anthony Watson

12 Piers Francis

13 Jonathan Joseph

14 Joe Cokanasiga

15 Elliot Daly

16 Jack Singleton

17 Joe Marler

18 Harry Williams

19 George Kruis

20 Courtney Lawes

21 Ben Youngs

22 Joe Marchant

23 Manu Tuilagi

For what it’s worth, I would expect a slightly less strong line-up for England this weekend.

11:44 AM BST

Good morning

We are less than 20 minutes away from hearing the 23 that Steve Borthwick will field against Wales.

Richard Wigglesworth has suggested that there is not a trial vibe to this game and that the coaches will use training to guide their picks for the final 33. Surely, though, some individuals will be able to catch the eye.

11:26 AM BST

Smith to be given chance to reclaim place for World Cup

Today Steve Borthwick names his final England team before the Rugby World Cup squad is announced on Monday.

The England head coach must make the call to either experiment or build cohesion against Wales with France fast approaching.

With that in mind, Telegraph Sport reported last night that Marcus Smith is expected to be handed the first opportunity to demonstrate why he is worth his place in England’s World Cup squad by returning to the starting XV in Cardiff.

Smith, who last started for England in the 53-10 defeat by France in March, is set to resume his half-back partnership with Harlequins team-mate Danny Care, with Ellis Genge likely to captain the side in Owen Farrell’s absence.

The 24-year-old Smith will look to make amends against Warren Gatland’s side at the Principality Stadium and a commanding performance will cement his place as one of three fly-halves, along with Farrell and George Ford.

Smith, who was earmarked by former England head coach Eddie Jones as the side’s future playmaker, appeared to have fallen behind Farrell and Ford in the fly-half pecking order.

But he is understood to have trained impressively during the summer training camps and is seen as a player who can still have an influential role in the World Cup campaign by bringing a point of difference to the side’s attack.

Given that Farrell and Ford both started the Premiership final at the end of May, there is also logic in giving Smith a start in what is the first of four World Cup warm-up matches before the opening game of the tournament against Argentina on September 9.

Jones took only two fly-halves to the World Cup in Japan four years ago, and Smith’s selection would likely involve a player missing out either in the back row or back three, but the rationale is that his X-factor and learning experience for future campaigns justify the selection.

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