Thursday, January 28, 2010

Steve Borthwick retained as England captain

Steve Borthwick will be England's captain going into the RBS Six Nations.

The Saracens lock has been skipper in every game since Martin Johnson took over as England manager in 2008.

Johnson initially named his Six Nations squad without a captain but has now decided on Borthwick, despite criticism of the player's performances.

England, who open their Six Nations campaign against Wales at Twickenham on 6 February, are expected to name their side on Tuesday, 2 February.

England, who are currently in Portugal to begin their Six Nations preparations, have won only six of their 14 matches since Borthwick was appointed captain.

Yet Johnson has decided to stick with Borthwick for the time being, although he may make a change during the tournament.

Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths says the retention of Borthwick is a good move, describing the 30-year-old as an "absolutely outstanding character and an outstanding captain for England".

"Within the club there is a general sense of bewilderment with the criticism that Steve sometimes gets at international level," Griffiths told BBC Radio 5 live.

"He is massively admired, not only on the field where his form has been brilliant this year, where the number of contributions during a game is far greater than any other member of the team, but also away from the field.

"But as England's results improve, and we all hope they will, he will start to be properly appreciated at international level."

Meanwhile, England blind-side flanker James Haskell is waiting for the results of a scan on a knee injury he sustained at the weekend while playing for club side Stade Francais.

Five players have been called up as injury cover, with Worcester loose-head prop Matt Mullan and Leicester tight-head Dan Cole replacing Andrew Sheridan and Julian White respectively.

At least one of the 22-year-old front-rowers, who have been selected ahead of the more experienced David Flatman and Duncan Bell, are likely be named in the match-day squad for the opening game against Wales.

Wasps loose-head Tim Payne and Bath tight-head David Wilson are the other props in the squad.

Wasps number eight Dan Ward-Smith and Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw are cover for Tom Croft and Joe Worsley respectively, while scrum-half Ben Youngs fills in for Leicester team-mate Harry Ellis.

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