Sport Rugby

Thursday 14 November 2019

Rugby in brief: England stick with skipper Borthwick

Steve Borthwick has been retained as England captain for the Six Nations.

England manager Martin Johnson confirmed Borthwick's appointment after the squad arrived in Portugal yesterday for a pre-tournament training camp.

Saracens lock Borthwick has captained England in every Test since Johnson took charge of the national team ahead of the 2008 autumn internationals.

Johnson's decision to delay the announcement of his captain had prompted speculation that there could be a change both in the leadership and the balance of the second row. However, Borthwick will now keep his place, probably alongside veteran Simon Shaw.

Worcester loose-head prop Matt Mullan and Leicester tight-head Dan Cole have been called into the squad for the tournament in place of injured front-row pair Andrew Sheridan and Julian White.

Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs, Wasps No 8 Dan Ward-Smith and Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw have also been promoted.

England have further concerns over the fitness of James Haskell, who injured his knee playing for Stade Francais against Edinburgh at the weekend, but a decision over his availability will be delayed until after a scan.

Youngs has been promoted as cover for clubmate Harry Ellis, who is battling a chronic knee problem, but he will return to the England Saxons squad to prepare for Sunday's game against Ireland 'A'.

Robshaw and Ward-Smith, whose inclusion takes the tally of New Zealand-born players in the squad to four, have replaced Joe Worsley, who is out for at least the first two games, and Tom Croft.

Drug-ban Stevens signs for Saracens

DISGRACED England prop Matt Stevens is set to relaunch his rugby career with Saracens in 2011.

The former Bath tight-head, half-way through a two-year drugs ban, will join the Watford-based club on completion of his suspension.

A Lion in New Zealand in 2005, Stevens tested positive for cocaine following a Heineken Cup game in December 2008.

The South African-born 27-year-old, who made his England debut in 2004, will link up with Saracens on the first day he is eligible to resume his rugby career -- January 19, 2011.

That is less than eight months before the 2011 World Cup begins in New Zealand, but if Stevens is able to quickly recapture the form that made him one of England's top forwards, then a Test recall cannot be dismissed.

Stevens resigned from Bath last March. He had a four-year deal with the club believed to be worth around £1m.

Since his suspension was imposed, 32 times-capped Stevens has put his efforts into running a coffee shop business.

Irish Independent

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