Six uncapped players included in England squad to tour New Zealand as Steve Borthwick makes Tom Curry decision

Ollie Sleightholme has been called up to the England squad for the tour of Japan and New Zealand  (Getty Images)
Ollie Sleightholme has been called up to the England squad for the tour of Japan and New Zealand (Getty Images)

Northampton Saints wing Ollie Sleightholme has been called up to England’s squad for the tour of Japan and New Zealand as one of six uncapped players in a 36-man group.

Flyer Sleightholme, the most prolific try-scorer in the English top flight this season, scored as Northampton pipped a battling Bath at Twickenham on Saturday, and earns selection in Steve Borthwick’s touring party alongside six of his triumphant teammates.

Bristol hooker Gabriel Oghre and Harlequins prop Fin Baxter are other eye-catching inclusions yet to earn a cap in a squad containing few surprise omissions.

Sale’s Tom Curry, who has played only 34 minutes this season after hip surgery, is included alongside twin brother Ben in a competitive back row group, but there is no place for fit-again scrum half Jack van Poortvliet.

With George Ford nursing an Achilles issue and not touring, Northampton’s Fin Smith and Marcus Smith of Harlequins are set to battle for the starting fly half shirt, with George Furbank and Henry Slade providing cover.

“The Summer Series presents a valuable opportunity for the continued development of this squad and is a demanding challenge to conclude the season,” said Borthwick.

“For some of the younger players, it will be their first time touring abroad with England. Travelling together is a great way to build closer bonds and provides an important opportunity for new players to settle into our environment.”

Fin Smith will push for a fly half place after helping Northampton to the Premiership title (PA Wire)
Fin Smith will push for a fly half place after helping Northampton to the Premiership title (PA Wire)

Along with Ford, prop Ellis Genge and Ollie Chessum – who can play either lock or blindside flanker – will miss the tour through injury.

Genge’s absence affords an opportunity to youngsters Fin Baxter and Bevan Rodd, who join Joe Marler in the loosehead mix.

Captain Jamie George, Saracens teammate Theo Dan and Oghre are named as the hookers with Curtis Langdon thought to have missed out due to a shoulder injury, while veteran Dan Cole anchors the tighthead group in what may be the 37-year-old’s final tour.

There is a return for Charlie Ewels at lock in Chessum’s absence, while Alex Dombrandt continues to be preferred to Tom Willis, Alfie Barbeary and Zach Mercer at No 8.

Harry Randall is the beneficiary of Danny Care’s retirement at nine, while Harlequins centre Luke Northmore and Sale pair Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck will press for a first cap wider out alongside Sleightholme.

England face Eddie Jones’ Japan in Tokyo on June 22, before travelling to New Zealand for a two-Test series against the All Blacks on July 6 and 13.

“The National Stadium in Tokyo is an incredible venue for Test match rugby, and we will need to be at our very best against a Japanese team who will want to play fast,” added Borthwick. “New Zealand’s home record is well documented, and we face a team who came within one point of winning a World Cup.

“Historically it is not a place England have had much success, but we are determined to change that. The players know that they will need to be mentally strong and tactically smart if we are to get the result we want.”

England 36-player Summer Series squad for Tests against Japan and New Zealand


Fin Baxter (Harlequins, uncapped)

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 112 caps)

Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)

Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, 4 caps)

Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, 5 caps)

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 50 caps)

Theo Dan (Saracens, 12 caps)

Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 17 caps)

Ben Earl (Saracens, 30 caps)

Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 30 caps)

Jamie George (Saracens, 90 caps) – captain

Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps)

Maro Itoje (Saracens, 81 caps)

Joe Marler (Harlequins, 93 caps)

George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 12 caps)

Gabriel Oghre (Bristol Bears, uncapped)

Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 5 caps)

Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)

Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 38 caps)

Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)


Joe Carpenter (Sale Sharks, uncapped)

Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps)

Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 8 caps)

George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 9 caps)

Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)

Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 15 caps)

Luke Northmore (Harlequins, uncapped)

Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 6 caps)

Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks, uncapped)

Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 62 caps)

Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)

Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 32 caps)

Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)

Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps)