Vunipola, Nowell, May axed as Borthwick names first England squad

Billy Vunipola, Jack Nowell and Jonny May are axed as new head coach Steve Borthwick names his first England squad for the Six Nations in February… but Dan Cole, Elliot Daly and Ben Earl are back in

  • Billy Vunipola has been left out of Steve Borthwick’s England Six Nations squad 
  • Wingers Jonny May and Jack Nowell are among the other players to miss out
  • Veteran prop Dan Cole, Elliot Daly and Ben Earl have all been brought back in
  • It is former Leicester boss Borthwick’s first squad as head coach of the Red Rose
  • Owen Farrell was named captain; Ellis Genge and Courtney Lawes vice-captains 

Billy Vunipola has been left out of Steve Borthwick’s England squad for the Six Nations, as have experienced wings Jack Nowell and Jonny May, as Owen Farrell was named captain.

As expected, veteran Leicester prop Dan Cole has been recalled at the age of 35 and is destined to play for his country again more than three years after winning his last cap – in the 2019 World Cup Final. 

Elliot Daly has also been selected after his stunning hat-trick for Saracens against Lyon two days ago. The utility back has been out of favour since the end of the Six Nations last year.

Billy Vunipola (above) has been left out of Steve Borthwick’s England squad for the Six Nations

Experienced wingers Jonny May (left) and Jack Nowell (right) did not make the cut either

Owen Farrell (right) has been named captain; Ellis Genge and Courtney Lawes vice-captains

Borthwick said: ‘This is an exciting squad, with a blend of Six Nations experience and young talent, and includes players who are in excellent form in the Premiership. 

‘We are all looking forward to the challenges of the Six Nations and we will approach this great tournament with a spirit of courage and total commitment. I know the players can’t wait to get back to Twickenham and give our fans a performance they can be proud of. The hard work for the Scotland game starts now.’

Saracens back Farrell will be skipper, with prop Ellis Genge and forward Courtney Lawes as vice-captains. 

Mako Vunipola has made the cut, but not his younger brother – who had fought his way back into the Red Rose No 8 shirt last summer. 

Former Leicester boss Borthwick named his first squad as Red Rose head coach on Monday

As expected, veteran Tigers prop Dan Cole (pictured) has been brought back in to the set-up

At 30 years old, Billy may struggle to re-establish himself again under the new regime, in the nine months before the World Cup in France. In his absence, Sam Simmonds and Alex Dombrandt will compete to line up at the base of the scrum.

Nowell had been an integral figure during Eddie Jones’s tenure – whenever he was fit, so his demotion is significant. May has been left out too as Borthwick has gone for younger options out wide in Tommy Freeman, Max Malins and the uncapped Cadan Murley and Ollie Hassell-Collins.

Sale had expected George Ford to be named in the squad today despite not playing for them since his summer move from Leicester, due to an Achilles injury. 

But the veteran fly-half has been omitted for now, with Owen Farrell, Marcus Smith and Northampton rookie Fin Smith the chosen 10s. 

The injured George Ford has been omitted for now with Northampton’s Fin Smith, 20, included

Midfield will be an area of selection intrigue yet again and a new contender has emerged alongside the familiar figure of Manu Tuilagi. 

The summons for Dan Kelly of Leicester was anticipated, given his break-through exploits while Borthwick was in charge of the Tigers. He will compete for a centre place, as will Daly and the recalled Joe Marchant.

Saracens flanker Ben Earl has been included as reward for his sterling club form, as has Ben Curry. 

His twin brother and England pack stalwart, Tom, is out with a hamstring injury and the setback has opened the door to his brother, who has won just a solitary cap to date. Jack Willis – now at Toulouse – is the other specialist openside in the squad. 

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