England to help Feyi-Waboso with ‘external noise’ as he prepares for Wales

<span>Immanuel Feyi-Waboso will hope to keep his place in the squad to face Wales.</span><span>Photograph: Adam Davy/PA</span>
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso will hope to keep his place in the squad to face Wales.Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Steve Borthwick said England are equipped to help Immanuel Feyi-Waboso block out the external noise this week as the Cardiff-born wing gears up for the Six Nations clash with Wales on Saturday.

The 21-year-old made his England debut in the closing stages of the 27-24 victory against Italy in Rome on Saturday and will hope to keep his place in the squad and make a first Test appearance at Twickenham. Feyi-Waboso’s decision to pursue a career with England went down badly with some Wales supporters while Warren Gatland has questioned his choice before saying his assistant, Neil Jenkins, was far from impressed.

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During the World Cup, the former England captain Owen Farrell was booed by supporters and Tom Curry was pilloried on social media after alleging he was on the receiving end of a racial slur. Farrell has since made himself unavailable for England but Borthwick is adamant Feyi-Waboso will get all the support he needs.

England players have access to a sports psychologist, either in person or remotely, during the Six Nations and Borthwick said: “We are cognisant of [the need to look after him], rightly so. Given the World Cup experience, there’s a higher awareness now of those external noises and factors. So we want to make sure we give all our players all the support they need.

“With regard to Manny, what I’ve seen is a guy who trains really hard, enjoys being with the players and spends a lot of time studying for his medicine degree. So he’s very busy and I don’t think he has too much time to dwell on these things.”

England have named a 36-man squad for Wales – the same training group that attended the camp in Girona last week apart from Marcus Smith, who has already been ruled out of the match. Borthwick has opted against adding a fly-half replacement with George Furbank offering cover.

“We are really hopeful that he [Smith] will play a part at the end of the tournament,” said Borthwick, who has also called the second-row George Martin into camp for rehab. “We have two excellent fly-halves in George [Ford] and Fin [Smith], and George Furbank has also been training at fly-half as well as full-back – and he’s played very well for Northampton there – so he offers us a different dimension and positional flexibility. So right now, I don’t anticipate that we will add another fly-half to our squad.”