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How England may line-up in the Six Nations

The Six Nations is just around the corner, but it could be a tricky tournament for Steve Borthwick’s side.

The Six Nations is just around the corner, but it could be a tricky tournament for Steve Borthwick’s side.

England come into the tournament in decent shape following a successful World Cup campaign, but they will be without a number of high-profile names for this years edition of the Six Nations.

Courtney Lawes, Jonny May Ben Youngs have retired from the international game, Owen Farrell is taking time away from the England squad for personal reasons and Manu Tuilagi, Tom Curry and Joe Marler look set to miss the start of the tournament through injury.

They aren’t alone in the unavailability list, with French based players Dave Ribbons, Jack Willis and Henry Arundell also unable to be selected.

But with so many high profile names out of contention, how might England line-up? Here is our best guess at a potential England squad for the Six Nations.

Props: Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinkler

The Bristol prop duo of Genge and Sinkler will likely start in the front-row this tournament. Genge is a senior leader within the England side, and could easily see himself named skipper too. He is also an experienced test starter too, so should continue his run in the front-row. On the tighthead side, Kyle Sinkler also has a wealth of test experience, which holds him in good stead to start this Six Nations. He needs to rediscover his best form in an England shirt again though, but the first game against Italy could help him do this.

Hooker: Jamie George

Experienced hooker Jamie George should also retain his place in the starting shirt over his Saracens counter-part Dan. George has proved himself to be an 80-minute-man during the World Cup-an impressive feat for a hooker-but this shows just how pivotal he is to this England team. He also should have his name in the captaincy hat too.

Second-row: Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum

The partnership of Itoje and Chessum has proved a fruitful one in recent tests, and it looks likely to continue this Six Nations. Itoje is another player in contention to be named captain, but even without the title he is a leader on the pitch. He looked like he was back to best in an England shirt during the World Cup, and England fans will be hoping he carries that form over to the Six Nations. Ollie Chessum has impressed on club duty this season, and that should see him keep the number 5 jersey for England this Six Nations

Back-row: Ben Curry, Sam Underhill, Ben Earl

The back-row is probably England’s biggest selection headache. The depth of talent across six, seven and eight in the Premiership is astonishing, so Borthwick faces a few sleepless nights over his selection; however we have opted for Curry, Underhill and Earl. Ben Curry returned to action this season following a nasty injury, but he has hit the ground running for Sale this season and this has really helped him stake a case for the six shirt in the absence of Lawes. Sam Underhill returned to the test arena in the third/forth placed play-off, and he returned with a bang as he put in a Man of the Match performance. He has also been in good form for Bath, so this should mean he retains his place in the back-row. Earl was England’s best player at the World Cup, and took to the eight jersey like a duck to water. He is a shoe-in to start this Six Nations.

Scrum-half: Danny Care

Another area where England are spoiled for riches is scrum-half; however Danny Care has taken our nine jersey this time around. The 37-year-old is in the twilight of his career, but he was impressive during the World Cup and has been just as good for Harlequins. He will face strong competition from Alex Mitchell, Harry Randall and Ben Spencer though.

Fly-half: George Ford

‘Ford or Smith’ is the new battle at 10 following Owen Farrell’s withdrawal; however George Ford’s performances at the World Cup, especially in the group stages, should mean he starts at fly-half this tournament.

Centres: Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade

The two form centres in the Premiership take our 12 and 13 jumpers. Lawrence looks to be playing the best rugby of his career for Bath this season, and without Tuilagi this Six Nations he looks to be the primary option to fit Borthwick’s game plan at 12. Henry Slade is another man playing some of his best rugby this season for the Chiefs. He has been a key player for them this season, including securing the wins against Toulon and Munster, but more importantly his leadership has been a vital asset Rob Baxter’s side, and could prove useful for Borthwick too.

Wingers: Freddie Steward and Joe Cockinasiga

The back-three may take on a different look this Six Nations with our selection of (spoiler alert) Marcus Smith at full-back, but Freddie Steward has featured on the wing before and could find himself there again this Spring. Steward has a great eye for space and his quality under the high ball makes him a valuable asset in the back-field. If he features on the wing he will also likely still defend at full-back, pushing Smith into the main line. On the other wing, Cockinasiga has a fantastic chance to stake a claim for the starting winger shirt following Jonny May’s retirement, but can he do it this tournament? He is a powerful ball carrier and knows how to take chances too.

Full-back: Marcus Smith

Marcus Smith was deployed at full-back during the World Cup, and this risk paid off as he arguably put in his best performances in an England shirt there. His inclusion at 15 added real zip to the England attack, and it also naturally found him in broken field, where he thrives. He is not a traditional full-back by any means, but he impressed there during the World Cup and there’s no reason it can’t happen again in the Six Nations.

Replacements:

Theo Dan

Dan has impressed in Saracens colours again this season, and should retain his place in England’s 23

Beno Obano

The Bath loosehead has really impressed this season, and should be in line to add to his one England cap this Six Nations.

Will Stuart

Stuart has opened up about missing a chance to establish himself as England’s starting tighthead, but his form for Bath should keep him involved with the squad.

George Martin

Martin put in a great showing in that semi-final against South Africa, and will compete with Itoje and Chessum for a starting shirt.

Tom Pearson

Pearson was unlucky to miss out on World Cup selection, but he has impressed for Northampton this season and should be afforded another shot for England.

Alex Mitchell

Mitchell could easily start in this team, the Saints nine has been great in the Premiership this season.

Tommy Freeman

Another man flourishing in Northampton colours. His new lease of life at 13 shows how versatile he is, and this should please the boss.

Elliot Daly

Daly is an established test level back, and should add plenty of quality coming off the bench this Six Nations. He can also cover the majority of the backline, which adds another tick to his name.

Rugby Nause News full England 23-man squad:

Starting XV: Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinkler, Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Ben Curry, Sam Underhill, Ben Earl, Danny Care, George Ford, Joe Cockinasiga, Ollie Lawrence, Henry Slade, Freddie Steward, Marcus Smith

Replacements: Theo Dan, Beno Obano, Will Stuart, George Martin, Tom Pearson, Alex Mitchell, Tommy Freeman, Elliot Daly