Youngs, Curry and Watson dropped for Italy clash as England coach Borthwick shows ruthless streak
England’s most capped player Ben Youngs, Ben Curry and Anthony Watson are down for the Italy clash as new head coach Steve Borthwick displays his ruthless streak following the opening Six Nations loss to Scotland.
Ben Youngs and Ben Curry have been released from the England squad preparing to face Italy at Twickenham on Sunday, an early sign of Steve Borthwick’s ruthless streak as manager.
The national team head coach has sent seven players back to their clubs and the departure of Youngs and Curry from the Red Rose proves Borthwick won’t be afraid to make tough decisions or ignore stellar reputations.
He had already shown it when he bypassed Manu Tuilagi for the Six Nations opener against Scotland and now he has done it again.
Test centurion Youngs is the country’s most capped player, but that hasn’t saved the veteran scrum-half, who was part of Borthwick’s team that won the Premier League title last season.
The 33-year-old came on as a replacement against the Scots but appears to have paid a heavy price for his loose kicks as England chased play last Saturday. Alex Mitchell is now set to earn a second cap as substitute for Jack van Poortvliet, as a reward for his excellent form with Northampton.
England wing Ben Curry has been dropped for the Italy clash after starting against Scotland
Of course, at this stage in his career, there will be questions as to whether Youngs can bounce back and return as an England player.
However, in recent years he has found performance spikes when his credentials have been called into question, so it may be premature to write Youngs off if he is able to summon another defiant response.
For Ben Curry, it’s a steep drop from the starting XV to a place outside the group of 29 retained for the clash with the Azzurri.
Sale’s 24-year-old winger initially seemed to struggle with the physical end of the game against Scotland, but seemed to gradually calm down and thrive, only to miss a tackle on Ben White that allowed the visiting scrum-half to score a try.
As he returns to his club, surely resigned to seeing his twin brother Tom soon usurp him yet again, the open starting job now hangs in the balance, with Jack Willis believed to be the favorite to wear that number 7 shirt.
He has held up well since the sudden and forced mid-season switch of his beloved Wasps to Toulouse, but Ben Earl has been consistently outstanding for Saracens and is in contention to replace Curry or come off the bench again.
Another man who missed the cut this week is Anthony Watson, who returned against Scotland after a lengthy absence from Red Rose duty.
He had worked hard to regain the fitness and sharpness of the match with Leicester, but the veteran winger was lost as Borthwick and his assistants look to inject youthful pace and energy into the back line.
Max Malins is very likely to retain his starting place after an impressive two-try contribution last weekend, and Ollie Hassell-Collins is also pushing for another shot after his encouraging debut.
But with electrics Henry Arundell and Tommy Freeman also in camp now, England are ready to field a revamped three-back combination designed to present a high-paced threat to the Italian defence.
Veteran scrum-half Ben Youngs paid a heavy price for his loose kicks last Saturday.
Tuilagi is also still in contention for the national team and the intrigue is whether his chances of a speedy recovery are enhanced by the presence of Henry Slade, who was absent injured last week.
The pair have combined forces with telltale effect in midfield in the past, but any meeting would see Marcus Smith being reduced to a reserve role, to allow captain Owen Farrell to switch to 10. Ollie Lawrence and Joe Marchant are other centres. who compete to play. – and the latter wore the 13 against Scotland.
Borthwick had hinted that he wasn’t afraid to make changes and has been true to his word. Like his predecessor, Eddie Jones, he is showing early on in his tenure that he is prepared to be ruthless in the eager pursuit of rapid improvement.