England name unchanged team for first time in four years for Six Nations clash against Wales

Ellis Genge training with England
Ellis Genge is fit again and starts on the bench - Getty Images/David Rogers

England have named an unchanged team for the first time in four years for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Wales at Twickenham.

Head coach Steve Borthwick has retained the same starting XV and bench originally announced for the 27-24 victory over Italy in round one following prop Ellis Genge’s recovery from a foot injury.

Genge, who had been named on the bench, was ruled out of the Stadio Olimpico opener on the morning of the game but has been passed fit for the visit of Warren Gatland’s men.

Beno Obano deputised at loosehead in Genge’s absence and now drops out of the matchday 23 altogether.

The most recent occasion England named an unchanged side was under Eddie Jones for the 2019 World Cup final against South Africa in Japan, which they lost 32-12.

Jamie George will lead the team out at Twickenham for the first time since being named as Owen Farrell’s successor as captain.

Five players made their Test debuts against Italy – Ethan Roots, Fraser Dingwall, Chandler Cunningham-South, Fin Smith and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso – and have the opportunity to press their claim for ongoing selection.

Roots was named man of the match in Rome after a blockbusting display at blindside flanker while for the first time Feyi-Waboso will be facing the nation of his birth, who he declined to represent in favour of England.

02:30 PM GMT

Maggie's thoughts

02:21 PM GMT

Did you think of standing Feyi-Waboso down for this one?

Borthwick says there wasn’t much consideration given to standing down Immanuel Feyi-Waboso. “He’s a calm, composed, mature character,” adds the England head coach. “He’s trained super well. In the little time I’ve known him, he doesn’t seem to get fazed.”

Jamie George labels the Exeter Chiefs wing as “a confident guy”. “Our defensive system is pretty similar to the one he’s used to at Exeter,” George says. “He seems to relish the big occasion.”

02:19 PM GMT

Borthwick on what he's been focusing on this week

We discussed post the game about the defence. It was a promising start, a commitment to do things differently after three training sessions. We’ve had two more training sessions this week and we’ve addressed some issues.

02:18 PM GMT

Jamie George on last week and this week

What pleased me most was how engaged everyone was, in huddles before penalties everyone was engaged. It means a lot to people in the squad this fixture, we’re very excited being back at Twickenham, playing Wales.

02:16 PM GMT

Why an unchanged team

For continuity and cohesion

02:16 PM GMT

Borthwick's injury update

Steve Borthwick says that George Martin “looks good” and has trained with the squad this week. It sounds as though the Leicester Tigers lock will be available for Scotland... as might a few more reinforcements:

Manu [Tuilagi] is progressing well. Ollie Lawrence is going to do a session with our medical team tomorrow. He’s making progress. With both of those guys, we’re monitoring them on a weekly basis. Marcus [Smith] will come back to continue his recovery towards the latter part of next week. He’ll be available towards the latter part of the tournament.

01:58 PM GMT

England press conference moved back to 2.15pm

So there will be a 15 minute delay to hearing from Messrs Borthwick and George.

01:56 PM GMT

Rory Darge returns for Scotland against France

01:42 PM GMT

Gatland on Wales' recent problems scoring in the first half at Twickenham

Warren Gatland smiles
Warren Gatland speaks to the press on Thursday afternoon at the Vale - Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Test rugby is normally tight in the opening 20 minutes. You’re up against a big English pack and then the game has opened up in the second-half. We expect a similar thing from England on the weekend.

They were quite direct against Italy. Depending on the weather conditions, they will potentially attack a little more. They don’t give you too many chances traditionally.

01:38 PM GMT

Gatland on Feyi-Waboso just now

We haven’t even spoken about him. He made his decision and we haven’t thought about it. It doesn’t add any extra spice. We haven’t spoken about it.

None of our tactics have made his name. He’s made a decision to play for England. In the past, we’ve had English-qualifed players play for Wales. Good luck to him. Hope things go well for him.

01:23 PM GMT

England last time unchanged?

Was for the World Cup final in 2019 but in this tournament:

01:17 PM GMT

Duhan van der Merwe takes the G6N weekly award

01:11 PM GMT

Gavin Mairs on England's new model scrum

Amid the current fanfare about England’s bid to reconnect with their supporters at Twickenham with a new attacking style designed to get them out of their seats, internally there has also been a reaffirmation that hopes of making the stadium a fortress again will rely on a scrum that strikes “fear” into their opponents.

Eddie Jones, the former England head coach, once declared that the side’s success would be centred around harnessing the best traditions of English forward power. Yet a win ratio of just 50 per cent at Twickenham in the last three seasons would suggest that the Red Rose set-piece no longer intimidates opposition teams as it once did.

You can read England know their scrum must improve after World Cup let-down in full here

01:03 PM GMT

Our expert's view

This is a big endorsement of the character as well as the talent of Immanuel Feyi-Waboso. A few colleagues and coaches have said that the 21-year-old is one to take things in his stride. A likely appearance off the bench against the country of his birth could be a tricky situation, but Borthwick has backed him.

Spare a thought for Beno Obano. The Bath loosehead has been in good form this season, but will have been frustrated with his cameo in Rome. He only got four minutes from the bench, and conceded the last scrum penalty that allowed Italy to make their way up the pitch for a consolation try.

01:01 PM GMT

England XXIII in the graphic format

01:01 PM GMT

Steve Borthwick on his selection

It was both pleasing and important to have started our Six Nations campaign in Rome with a victory.

It was good to have done so in front of so many travelling England supporters. However, we know there are areas of our game to improve as we prepare for this Saturday’s game against a spirited Wales team.

With a new player group and a number of new caps, we have tried to develop our game on both sides of the ball. Such changes take time, and I was pleased how quickly the players settled and adapted last weekend against Italy.

We’re delighted to be back playing in front of a sold-out Twickenham Stadium this Saturday. The visit of the Wales team is always a fixture that creates a special atmosphere.

I have no doubt that this group of players are relishing the challenge before them and are looking forward to creating a very special experience for our supporters.

01:00 PM GMT

England name unchanged XV, Genge returns to the bench

England XV  F Steward (Leicester); T Freeman (Northampton), H Slade (Exeter), F Dingwall (Northampton), E Daly (Saracens); G Ford (Sale), A Mitchell (Northampton); J Marler (Harlequins), J George (Saracens), W Stuart (Bath), M Itoje (Saracens), O Chessum  (Leicester), E Roots (Exeter), S Underhill (Bath), B Earl (Saracens).

Replacements  T Dan (Saracens), E Genge (Bristol), D Cole  (Leicester), A Coles (Northampton), C Cunningham-South (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), F Smith (Northampton), I Feyi-Waboso (Exeter).

12:51 PM GMT

Incidentally, France have named their side to play Scotland

Cameron Woki comes in for the red-carded Paul Willemse. Louis Bielle-Biarrey replaces Yoram Moefana on the wing.

12:36 PM GMT

Ellis Genge pulled out of Italy match

But the vice-captain is expected to be fit for duty in the 23, replacing the man who replaced him, Beno Obano.

12:32 PM GMT

Very low-key build-up this year

No needle yet. Tepid, probably reflecting both camps’ nervousness. It seems primed for some Gatland hand grenades but he’s keeping the pins in so far this year. Speaking of my esteemed colleague, here’s the side with seven changes he has named for Saturday:

Wales XV  Winnett; Dyer, North, Tompkins, Adams; Lloyd, Williams; G Thomas, Dee, Assiratti, Jenkins (capt), Beard, Mann, Reffell, Wainwright.

Replacements  Elias, Domachowski, Griffin, Rowlands, Basham, Hardy, Evans, Grady.

11:39 AM GMT

Preview: Same new

Good morning and welcome to live coverage of England’s announcement of their team to play Wales on Saturday at Twickenham in the 2024 Six Nations, kicking off at 4.45pm. Our scufflers on the ground around Pennyhill Park have winkled out the news that Steve Borthwick is planning on naming the same side that came from behind in Rome to beat Italy 27-24, sticking with the new chaps, Ethan Roots and Fraser Dingwall after their impressive performances, and retaining Tommy Freeman for another run out on the wing. George Ford, who kicked 17 of England’s points, and played much flatter than he had at the World Cup, will start at No 10 leaving Fin Smith, again, to try to shine from the bench.

England recognise that they have a dual mission on Saturday, to win the match but also to try to rebuild bridges with their disaffected home support who finally revolted last autumn after three years of drudgery watching the death throes of the Eddie Jones era and the teething troubles of Borthwick’s first campaigns. England sent out Freddie Steward to talk about a reconnection strategy earlier this week and he acknowledged how critical playing to the crowd will be.

“This is essentially a fresh start,” he said. “We have had our World Cup and we are at the start of a new cycle with fresh faces, new coaches. This is our chance to draw a line in the sand. As players when you play for England you are expected to win and when you don’t win, understandably you don’t have the fans on your side and there was a bit of that in the warm-ups to the World Cup. I would never blame the fans and say they need to lift us. They do that on the back of what we do, so the responsibility is ours.

“During the World Cup when we got to the semi-final it felt like that is what it can be like. As players we want that all the time but we have to put the performances on the field to earn that. The fans are the heartbeat of what we do. We want Twickenham to erupt and we want it to be a place we want to go and play in front of our fans and represent them.”

The focus on kicking bored Twickenham to tears but at the Stadio Olimpico refreshingly there was more enterprise. “We were probably guilty early doors of being too one-dimensional in terms of teams knowing what we were going to do,” Steward said. “But hopefully by evolving the attack it will ask a few more questions of the opposition. For us as players, we want to play winning rugby. Whatever style that is, we want to win Test matches, we want to win tournaments and have successful campaigns.”

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