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How England could line up this Six Nations following 36-man squad announcement

Steve Borthwick has named a fresh looking 36-man squad for the Six Nations, which will be led by Saracens hooker Jamie George.

Steve Borthwick has named a fresh looking 36-man squad for the Six Nations, which will be led by Saracens hooker Jamie George.

Borthwick’s first major headache was of course the captaincy following Owen Farrell opting to step away from the International stage for personal reasons.

The default choice after Farrell would have been Courtney Lawes, however he also won’t be involved this Six Nations as he has opted to retire from the International game.

These two leave a massive void in terms of quality on the pitch and also in leadership. Borthwick still had plenty of options though, but has given the armband to Saracens hooker Jamie George for this Six Nations.

Elsewhere in the squad, the England boss has really rewarded players for their club form. Table-toppers Northampton Saints provide the most players out of any club to the England squad, with seven of Phil Dowson’s side included. Fin Smith, Tommy Freeman, Fraser Dingwall and others have all been called up after impressive displays.

There is also a welcome return for in-form players Alex Dombrant, Henry Slade and Ben Spencer, who have all been doing wonders on the club front.

Borthwick has also brought in some young guns, in the form of Tom Roebuck, Oscar Beard and Chandler Cunningham-South-who all come in for their first senior England camp.

But how will England line-up this Six Nations? We had a go prior to the squad announcement, however turns in form, injuries and of course squad omissions, mean there are some changes; so with the benefit of hindsight and all our new knowledge, here is our best bet at a potential England team for the Six Nations.

Props: Beno Obano and Dan Cole

Bath prop Beno Obano has really hit form of late, and his demolition job on the Racing scrum last week has thrust him into our starting team. He has always been a powerful scrummager, but this season in particular he has come into his own and the platform from the scrum has helped propel Bath up the table. He is also a powerful carrier too, which will only benefit England.

Speaking of scrummaging, experienced tighthead Dan Cole will likely keep his place from the World Cup. He is in the twilight of his career, but he is also in the midst of his second coming on the test arena; which was rubber stamped by his display in the World Cup semi-final. He really held his own against the Springboks scrum, and this should keep him in Borthwick’s good books.

Hooker: Jamie George (C)

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New skipper Jamie George will more than likely retain his starting shirt this Six Nations. He is an 80 minute man for England, and his importance to the team is often underestimated. He is also a senior player in the squad-not just because of his new captaincy role-and this will really help this new look squad come together.

Second-row: Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum

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Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum should keep their number 4 and 5 shirts from the World Cup. Saracens second-row Itoje speaks for himself really; he is a quality operator. He is also rediscovering his best form this season after a tough year or so, but this will only please England fans.

Alongside him we have Leicester lock Ollie Chessum has been one of his sides stand out performers this season, and has really staked his claim for the starting second-row gig this Six Nations.

Flankers: Ethan Roots and Tom Pearson

Ethan Roots was a surprise inclusion for the Six Nations squad, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense for him to start at 6. Roots has really impressed for Exeter this season, but he also goes under the radar. His role at the Chiefs is doing a lot of the ugly work, and he does this to perfection. He carries hard, cleans out rucks and more importantly is constantly looking for work.

At 7 we have in-form Saints flanker Tom Pearson. He had a tough England debut at the Principality, however he has become an integral part of the Northampton back-row and is quickly establishing himself as one of their best players. His hat-trick last week showed he knows how to finish a chance, but his main attribute is his work-rate. He will need to be at his best to keep the 7 jersey his own this Six Nations, but his club form shows he could become the starting flanker for years to come.

Number 8: Ben Earl

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Ben Earl was by far England’s best player at the World Cup, and he should easily keep his spot in the team. He is the typical ‘new age’ number 8, and is almost the blueprint for the way the position will act in the future. He has devastating pace for a forward, has a keen eye for space and also loves to run through people; it really is the perfect mix to help England move forward. He also faces stiff competition from Alex Dombrant, but his World Cup form shouldn’t be ignored.

Scrum-half: Ben Spencer

England are absolutely loaded with talented scrum-halves, but the way Ben Spencer has been playing recently for Bath could see him get the 9 jersey this Six Nations. He has been in incredible form of late, and whilst his half-back partner Finn Russell gets all the headlines, he is an instrumental part of the Bath attack. He has a fantastic kicking game, but that is married with a love of quick ball too and being able to do both will put him in a good position to start. He needs to consistently turn in good performances for England to fend off Alex Mitchell and Danny Care though.

Fly-half: Marcus Smith

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Harlequins X-factor player Marcus Smith could be given the reigns at fly-half this Six Nations. Given the rest of the selection, it appears Steve Borthwick will be implementing a more exciting brand of rugby-and who better to lead this than showman Smith. He is without a doubt the most exciting player in the Premiership, but if England want to play this new expansive style he needs to start.

Centres: Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade

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The two form centres in the Premiership at the moment. Bath centre Ollie Lawrence has been in the form of his life since he moved to the Rec from Worcester, and his performance against Racing in particular would have got England fans giddy to see him start in the Six Nations.

Alongside him we have Henry Slade. As Rob Baxter touched on in the week, Slade has started the season a fresh man and looks in much better form for it. He has provided some huge match winning moments for the Chiefs this year, and more importantly has shown great leadership of their young squad.

There is a huge debate online about the positioning of the centres, however the way the England attack looks set to operate this tournament, it could be a case of the numbers on their back really don’t matter-which is an even more exciting prospect.

Wingers: Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Tommy Freeman

It might be a bold shout, but Manny Feyi-Waboso and Tommy Freeman have been in fantastic form in the Premiership and deserve a shot.

Manny Feyi-Waboso has really impressed for Exeter this season, and really emphasises what the club are about this year. He is an exciting young player, who is hungry to impress on the biggest stage. Not only does he have devastating pace, but he also loves to run over people to score, and this will definitely please Borthwick.

On the other wing, Tommy Freeman has also been in fantastic form this season, but his ability to play both wing and centre adds another tick to his name. He has seamlessly switched between the two this season, and has been just as good in either position. He might not have the devastating pace of Feyi-Waboso, but he is still a great winger and will only add to the new England attack.

Full-back: Freddie Steward

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Freddie Steward has excelled for England since he made his debut, and he could be in for another huge Six Nations. He is arguably one of the best players in the world under the high ball, and this skill is so useful for England, both in defence and attack. He also has a great ability to find space and attack it, and this will create so many opportunities for the rest of the England side to score. He certainly faces a fight for the 15 shirt with George Furbank though.

Replacements:

Theo Dan

The Saracens hooker is the next taxi off the rank for England. He is a quality player, and will adds heaps off the bench this Six Nations if called upon.

Ellis Genge

A tough choice, however his hamstring injury may prevent him from putting in his usual stints early doors. He is a wonderful player-especially in the loose, but his recent injury could limit him to a spot on the bench.

Will Stuart

Will Stuart is a solid tighthead, and will do a decent job off the bench this Six Nations. He could easily lay down a claim to start though if he is at his best.

Alex Coles

Saints second-row Alex Coles could feel unlucky to be on the bench, but he will still add plenty of physicality and quality off the bench

Sam Underhill

The test specialist will fight Tom Pearson all the way for that starting shirt, but unleashing him off the bench might be a masterstroke by Borthwick.

Alex Mitchell

Another tough choice, but bringing Alex Mitchell off the bench could again add another dynamic to the England attack. The way he changed the game off the bench in Northampton’s heroic comeback against Exeter shows what he can do from the bench when the game is starting to break up, and this could be a great tactic for England.

Fin Smith

Fin Smith is one of the form players in the Premiership right now, and he looks set to make his England debut this Six Nations.

George Furbank

Another Saint in red-hot form. Furbank can also feel unlucky by being named on the bench, but he will only add more energy to the attack in the latter stages if used in this way.

Rugby Nause News England Six Nations team in full:

Beno Obano, Jamie George (C), Dan Cole, Ollie Chessum, Maro Itoje, Ethan Roots, Tom Pearson, Ben Earl, Ben Spencer, Marcus Smith, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Ollie Lawrence, Henry Slade, Tommy Freeman, Freddie Steward

Replacements: Theo Dan, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Alex Coles, Sam Underhill, Alex Mitchell, Fin Smith, George Furbank