Six Nations 2023: Manu Tuilagi axed as Steve Borthwick rings changes for England opener

Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ben Curry among the eye-catching inclusions for Twickenham clash

Steve Borthwick has made sweeping changes to the England starting line-up for his first match in charge, omitting Manu Tuilagi from the entire squad to face Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday (4.45pm – Live RTÉ 2).

Tuilagi’s absence represents one of eight changes from the November defeat by South Africa with Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ben Curry among the eye-catching inclusions.

Tuilagi started three of England’s autumn Tests – he was rested against Japan – but Borthwick has decided to dispense with someone who has been such an important fixture to the side for the last decade, injury permitting. His absence means Joe Marchant comes into the side at outside centre with Borthwick persevering with the 10-12 axis of Marcus Smith and the captain Owen Farrell.

Elsewhere, Jamie George starts at hooker having come through the return to play protocols following a concussion while Curry wins his second cap at openside flanker. Hassel-Collins is the only uncapped player in the side, rewarded for his excellent form for London Irish. There is a place for Dan Cole, who is set for a first cap since the 2019 World Cup final.


Borthwick said: “There are few fixtures in the rugby calendar that excite both players and supporters alike more than the annual Six Nations meeting of the auld enemy as they battle for the honour of lifting the Calcutta Cup. Another packed Twickenham will witness the start of the next chapter of English rugby in one of the most keenly contested tournaments in the world.

“There is no doubt that this England team shares the supporters’ sense of eager anticipation. To a man, the players are determined to play with the commitment, fight and desire that is at the very heart of representing England, the sort of passion that our tremendous supporters rightly expect.”

Freddie Steward continues at fullback with Max Malins coming on to the right wing and Jack van Poortvliet sticking at scrumhalf. Up front, Ellis Genge, George and Kyle Sinckler comprise the frontrow while Ollie Chessum joins Maro Itoje in the secondrow.

Lewis Ludlam, Curry and Alex Dombrandt form a completely different backrow to that which appeared against South Africa.

On the bench, Mako Vunipola and the uncapped Jack Walker provided frontrow cover with Cole while the Saracens pair of Nick Isiekwe and Ben Earl join them. Ben Youngs and Anthony Watson are also among the replacements – taking the total of Borthwick’s former Leicester charges in the squad to six – while Ollie Lawrence is also on the bench. – Guardian

ENGLAND (v Scotland): Freddie Steward (Leicester); Max Malins (Saracens, Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 13 caps), Owen Farrell (Saracens, capt), Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish); Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester); Ellis Genge (Bristol), Jamie George (Saracens), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol); Maro Itoje (Saracens), Ollie Chessum (Leicester); Lewis Ludlam (Northampton), Ben Curry (Sale), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins).

Replacements: Jack Walker (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Dan Cole (Leicester), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Ben Earl (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester), Ollie Lawrence (Bath), Anthony Watson (Leicester).