England select six uncapped players for mid-year Tests as Tom Curry goes despite Sale Sharks’ reservations

Colin Newboult
Uncapped Ollie Sleightholme alongside the Curry twins, Tom and Ben, and head coach Steve Borthwick.

Uncapped Ollie Sleightholme alongside the Curry twins, Tom and Ben, and head coach Steve Borthwick.

England head coach Steve Borthwick has named his 36-man squad for the upcoming tour to Japan and New Zealand in June and July.

Much of the group that featured in the Six Nations have been retained while there are recalls for Bevan Rodd and Tom Curry after injury.

Curry had surgery on a hip injury after the Rugby World Cup but made a quicker-than-expected recovery to play in the Premiership semi-finals.

The flanker has been selected despite concerns from Sale Sharks boss Alex Sanderson that it is perhaps too soon for an immediate return to Test rugby.

Tom is joined by his twin brother, Ben, who will hope to get some game time after missing out during the recent international tournament.

The uncapped six

The Northampton Saints and Bath players have been added to the England squad following the Premiership final, including the uncapped Ollie Sleightholme, who was the league’s top try-scorer in 2023/24 and also touched down at Twickenham.

Sleightholme is one of six uncapped players in the 36, with Fin Baxter, Gabriel Oghre, Joe Carpenter, Luke Northmore and Tom Roebuck the other five.

Baxter gets his chance after the injury to Ellis Genge and the likely suspension of Beno Obano after his sending off on Saturday.

Oghre is selected after impressing in training but the Saints’ Curtis Langdon misses out, likely due to the injury he sustained in the showpiece event.

Meanwhile, Sale duo Carpenter and Roebuck have enjoyed fine seasons , and the former will be competing with George Furbank and Freddie Steward for the full-back jersey.

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“The Summer Series presents a valuable opportunity for the continued development of this squad and is a demanding challenge to conclude the season,” Borthwick said.

“For some of the younger players, it will be their first time touring abroad with England. Travelling together is a great way to build closer bonds and provides an important opportunity for new players to settle into our environment.”

“With the changes in climate, playing conditions, and contrasting styles of rugby from the two opponents we face, we will be challenged on and off the field.

“The National Stadium in Tokyo is an incredible venue for Test match rugby, and we will need to be at our very best against a Japanese team who will want to play fast.

“New Zealand’s home record is well documented, and we face a team who came within one point of winning a World Cup.

“Historically it is not a place England have had much success, but we are determined to change that. The players know that they will need to be mentally strong and tactically smart if we are to get the result we want.”

England’s 36-man squad for mid-year Tests

Forwards: Fin Baxter, Dan Cole, Alex Coles, Chandler Cunningham-South, Ben Curry, Tom Curry, Theo Dan, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Jamie George, Joe Heyes, Maro Itoje, Joe Marler, George Martin, Gabriel Oghre, Bevan Rodd, Ethan Roots, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill

Backs: Joe Carpenter, Fraser Dingwall, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Ollie Lawrence, Alex Mitchell, Luke Northmore, Harry Randall, Tom Roebuck, Henry Slade, Ollie Sleightholme, Fin Smith, Marcus Smith, Ben Spencer, Freddie Steward

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