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Six Saints in England matchday squad to face All Blacks

Six Northampton Saints players have been named in England’s matchday squad for the first test with New Zealand this weekend.

The Gallagher Premiership 2023/24 top try scorer Ollie Sleightholme is in-line for his senior international debut after being named among the replacements for Saturday’s showdown at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday (kick-off: 8.05am UK time).

Alex Mitchell, Tommy Freeman and George Furbank retain their places in the starting backs division that defeated Japan a fortnight ago, while Fin Smith also keeps his spot among the replacements.

Having featured in two of England’s Six Nations games earlier this year, lock Alex Coles completes the strong Saints contingent in the 23-man squad after being included on the bench.

Elsewhere, head coach Steve Borthwick has brought props Joe Marler and Will Stuart into the starting line-up, with Fin Baxter poised to make his debut as a replacement while Dan Cole will win his 114th cap to equal Jason Leonard as England’s second most capped men's player when he is introduced to proceedings.

Bath’s Ben Spencer provides the alternative scrum-half option, replacing Harry Randall in the final change from the 52-17 victory in Tokyo.

Borthwick said: “It doesn’t get more challenging than playing New Zealand at home, but it’s exactly where we want to be. We want to find out more about ourselves and test ourselves against one of the best teams in the world.

“Test rugby is a game of fine margins, so our mindset is going to be very important on Saturday. We’ll need to be mentally strong, play a tactically smart game and ensure we maintain our discipline.

“The Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin is a great venue with a quick surface, and the closed roof should make the atmosphere very special.”

Saturday 6 July, 2024
Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin
Kick-off: 8.05am

15. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 10 caps)
14. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 63 caps) – vice-captain
12. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 25 caps)
11. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 9 caps)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 33 caps)
9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 16 caps)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 94 caps) – vice-captain   
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 91 caps) – captain   
3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 39 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 82 caps) – vice-captain
5. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 13 caps)
6. Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, 5 caps)
7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 36 caps)
8. Ben Earl (Saracens, 31 caps) – vice-captain

16. Theo Dan (Saracens, 13 caps)
17. Fin Baxter (Harlequins, uncapped)
18. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 113 caps)
19. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)
20. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 51 caps)
21. Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)
22. Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, 3 caps)
23. Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

England’s Summer Series

  • New Zealand v England, Saturday 6 July, Forsyth Barr Stadium, kick-off 8.05am BST (Sky Sports)
  • New Zealand v England, Saturday 13 July, Eden Park, kick-off 8.05am BST (Sky Sports)


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