Marcus Smith left out of England training squad as George Ford gets nod alongside Owen Farrell
Marcus Smith has been cut from the England squad for the second Six Nations fallow week, with George Ford preferred as Steve Borthwick’s second fly-half alongside Owen Farrell.
Having started every game at ten for England in 2022, Smith’s omission from a training squad that will assemble in Brighton is another indication of how Smith’s stock has fallen since the arrival of Borthwick in December.
After being dropped to the bench, the Harlequins playmaker featured only fleetingly against Italy and Wales, receiving only 14 seconds of action despite an off day for captain Farrell from the kicking tee at the Principality Stadium.
Ford’s recent return to action after a long lay-off following an achilles injury has now led Borthwick to leave out the 24-year-old from the 26-player training group.
Wing Max Malins will miss the camp in Brighton due to an ankle injury, with Jonny May recalled to the England squad for the first time under Steve Borthwick.
Centre Manu Tuilagi will also train with the squad despite receiving a ban after being sent off while playing for Sale.
“The performance against Wales was pleasing in a number of important respects,” Borthwick said. “It was good to see the hard work the squad have put in on the training field reflected in a deserved and hard-won victory.
“Reduced fallow week squad numbers, injuries and our wish for some players to have valuable game time minutes with their clubs, means that the squad gathered in Brighton has a slightly different feel to it. We are very pleased to welcome back Jonny May.
“The players and coaches alike are looking forward to another three days of focused training, before the full squad meets back up back at Pennyhill Park on Sunday, in anticipation of our continued preparations for the remainder of what is proving to be a magnificent Six Nations tournament”.
Smith’s release frees the fly half to play for Harlequins in their annual “Big Game” fixture against Exeter, which will be held at Twickenham on Saturday as part of a double header with the club’s women’s side.
Coincidentally, England’s fallow week training will take place at Brighton College - Smith’s old school and where he was first identified as a player of international potential by former England head coach Eddie Jones.
After this week’s activity on the south coast, England will reassemble on Monday to step up their preparations for a significant test against France at Twickenham on Saturday 11 March.
Borthwick’s side have bounced back from an opening defeat to Scotland by beating Italy and Wales, but end their campaign against arguably the two top sides in the world, with a trip to Ireland on St Patrick’s weekend concluding their championship.