Experienced center Henry Slade has been left out of England’s Rugby World Cup squad in a shock omission from head coach Steve Borthwick’s 33-player selection. Slade, who had hoped to feature at his third World Cup, was left out in favor of Joe Marchant at outside center. Rookie hooker Theo Dan, who earned his first cap against Wales, was included in the squad, but fellow debutants Tom Pearson and Tom Willis did not make the cut. Alex Dombrandt, who has started every England test this year, was also omitted, leaving Borthwick without specialist No 8 back-up for Billy Vunipola. Versatile back-rowers Ben Earl and Lewis Ludlam were preferred, alongside Jack Willis, Tom Curry, and vice-captain Courtney Lawes.
In a press conference, Borthwick explained that the squad selection was based on a clear plan to win the upcoming Tests. He emphasized the need for adaptability and improvement, rather than solely focusing on selection. Borthwick also mentioned that the squad is a balanced mix of experienced players from the 2019 World Cup and newcomers who are eager to prove themselves.
England captain Owen Farrell expressed his excitement about the squad and emphasized the need for players to stay ready due to potential changes caused by injuries. He also praised the competitiveness of the squad and their determination to win.
The omission of Slade and other players came as a result of tough selection decisions, according to Borthwick. He acknowledged the disappointment of those left out but emphasized that every player in the squad would be ready to contribute when called upon.
Borthwick also discussed the inclusion of Billy Vunipola as the only specialist No 8, despite concerns about his fitness. He commended Vunipola’s hard work in recovering from injury and expressed confidence in his fitness. Borthwick mentioned that the squad has a good mix of experienced players and newcomers, creating a competitive environment that will push the team to succeed.
Overall, Borthwick’s selection decisions reflect a desire to strike a balance between experience and emerging talent. The squad is focused on preparing for the upcoming Tests and is determined to perform at their best in the Rugby World Cup.