England Rugby World Cup 2023 squad guide: Lawrence Dallaglio’s verdict on every player

England Rugby World Cup 2023 squad guide: Lawrence Dallaglio’s verdict on every player

Rugby World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio gives his expert insight into the 33-man squad carrying England’s hopes in France.

Henry Arundell

Inexperienced and still green at Test level, but Henry is blessed with so much X-factor and raw ability that it would be a real shame if England do not get the ball in his hands on a few occasions in France. Former London Irish wing has already shown exactly how he has the pace and footwork to come up with some real highlight-reel moments.

Danny Care

The evergreen scrum-half just keeps on coming back for more. Such a talented footballer, Care still has the skills and vision to cause any opponent problems. He will rely on a forward platform, though, so he will be hoping for help from his pack. The Harlequins man will be aiming to close the circle on a remarkable career for club and country.

Elliot Daly

Catapulted right back into the thick of things in the Test arena under England coach Borthwick, when he was surplus to requirements under Eddie Jones. Has a trophy full of winners’ medals from his hugely decorated time with Saracens. The versatile backline operator has the ability to produce exactly when it is needed most — and England need all his talents now.

George Ford

England’s most important player, given Owen Farrell’s two-match ban. No shortage of footballing ability, his job will be to implement the gameplan to pick off both Argentina and Japan. A massive selection and Borthwick will be delighted he picked him, given how things have since panned out. Tactically astute and able to run a backline with coolness and calm.

Alex Mitchell was omitted from England’s original 33-man squad (Getty Images)
Alex Mitchell was omitted from England’s original 33-man squad (Getty Images)

Alex Mitchell

The scrum-half merry-go-round continues. A lot of people felt that Alex should have been in there from the start. The Northampton half-back gets his chance through Jack Van Poortvliet’s cruel injury. The lively creator will add pace and tempo to England’s game, and already showed his talents to move the ball quickly in that Fiji defeat.

Marcus Smith

The poster boy of English rugby has fallen down the pecking order at fly-half behind Farrell and Ford, but there should still be chances for us to see his mercurial talents in the pool stages of the tournament. The Harlequins playmaker has enough talent to play from anywhere, so a few runs at full-back would not be too great a surprise.

Ollie Lawrence

Finally we are starting to see the reward for all his hard work. This time last year Ollie was out of a job, now he is one of England’s best performers. From Worcester’s administration, Lawrence has risen again at Bath to excel in the west country and force his way into the England squad. Every England fan will be excited to see what he can do at this tournament.

Max Malins

The Bristol utility back is a talented, gifted footballer who turns up in the right place at the right time to score tries, and create them, too. If Max is scoring tries, it is a fair bet that England are playing well. This is the ideal opportunity for him to show exactly what he is capable of, on the biggest rugby stage there is, as he belongs among the world’s best players and teams.

Joe Marchant

Has always performed incredibly well when called upon to deliver for England. A surprise pick ahead of Henry Slade, but remains immensely talented and always gives everything to the cause. Fully deserving of his place in the squad and can have a real impact on proceedings for England. Able to cut a classic outside break in the centres but a physical, pacy operator, too.

Jonny May has benefited from Anthony Watson’s injury (Getty Images)
Jonny May has benefited from Anthony Watson’s injury (Getty Images)

Jonny May

The Gloucester wing must have thought his chance to play in this World Cup had eluded him. Anthony Watson’s calf injury means one of England’s best wingers now has the chance to show the world that he is still capable of doing great things on the biggest stage. This is an exciting selection, as Jonny is a wing with express pace and top-level finishing ability.

Freddie Steward

The towering Leicester full-back is incredibly rock-solid under the high ball and an enormous talent with a huge boot, but he is far more of a ball player than what we have seen so far. Ever dependable, a very consistent performer with a lot to come in his game. At some point at the World Cup, England will unleash Freddie — and that could be compelling viewing.

Manu Tuilagi

England supporters will just be thrilled to reach the start of the Rugby World Cup with Manu Tuilagi fit and available for selection. The memories of Manu scoring the first try in England’s 2019 World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand remain extremely vivid. England’s best moments in the last four years have all come with him leading from the front.

Ben Youngs

The Leicester stalwart and England’s most-capped men’s player is still going strong for his fourth World Cup. You have got to think he will play a significant part in the tournament. Important that he steps up now, as the most experienced senior player in the squad and given his achievements in the game. Must challenge the best No9s in the tournament to go out on a high.

Ollie Chessum

He has made a fantastic recovery from a horrific ankle dislocation in March that cut short a very promising Six Nations for the big Leicester lock. One of England’s best performers during his 11 caps to date. Has won an incredible battle to get back into the squad and he will be one of England’s players to watch in this World Cup, without a doubt.

Ollie Chessum is back from injury (Getty Images)
Ollie Chessum is back from injury (Getty Images)

Dan Cole

Four World Cups is an incredible achievement for the highly regarded and equally dependable tight-head prop. Thoroughly deserves to be in this England squad, and boasts invaluable experience at the ripe old age of 36. Has been a real cornerstone of the squad both on and off the field and an important figure in England’s dressing room.

Tom Curry

Announced himself as a genuine world-class performer as one of England’s very best players at the last World Cup, in Japan in 2019. England supporters will be hoping that he can now get back to that level he showed as Eddie Jones’s side reached the final four years ago. If Tom manages to stay injury-free, he will impact every game he plays.

Theo Dan

A prodigious talent, who has shone for Saracens across the second half of the north Londoners’ Gallagher Premiership title-winning season. The young hooker will gain a huge amount from the experience of being part of the squad. There to understudy the senior man in Jamie George but can contest a matchday spot with Harlequins’ Jack Walker.

Ben Earl

The standout player in the Premiership season just gone, and England’s most consistent player in recent times. Ben was one of England’s best players during a difficult August series and one of the few players to extend his top form past the end of the club season. Normally an excellent operator at openside flanker, Ben can double up at No8 if needs must.

Ellis Genge

One of England’s biggest characters, and one of the clear leaders in the dressing room. Ellis wears his heart on his sleeve and is such a fine ambassador for his home city of Bristol. His role in this squad cannot be underestimated. He was captain of the Leicester team that won the league under Borthwick. His relationship with both coach and team-mates will be key.

Jamie George

Suddenly finds himself as one of England’s most important players after injuries to other experienced hookers. The real spine of the team, immensely experienced and talented, and still has an enormous amount to offer. Jamie’s mindset will be crucial to the Argentina game. Looked at one point an England captain-in-waiting, but will be called to lead this team now.

Maro Itoje must get back to his best (PA)
Maro Itoje must get back to his best (PA)

Maro Itoje

The powerful Saracens lock was genuinely world-class in his position at his very peak in 2019. Maro has not been able to reach those heights since, however. Such a big player for England: when he plays well, the rest of the team really receive an enormous boost. If he manages to have a good World Cup, then England will do better than people expect.

Lewis Ludlam

Always a very candid talker, Lewis has never let England down and he has such an engine on him. Has captained his club Northampton regularly, so his leadership is not to be undervalued. Back-row selection will be hotly contested in this squad, but he was a regular pick for some time under Eddie Jones. Adds real depth to England’s leadership ranks.

Joe Marler

This will be an opportunity for Joe to leave a lasting impression and legacy on the England shirt. He is a real character of the sport who always plays the game with a smile on his face — and a lot, lot more.

Is back in the fold again after a hiatus, so will be desperate to make sure that making himself available for World Cup selection again has been worthwhile.

George Martin

Perhaps a surprise pick for the tournament in some eyes, but Borthwick knows him better than anyone from their time together at Leicester. The Tigers engine room powerhouse boasts enormous potential at such a young age. A very versatile operator, who it would not be a surprise to see gain a lot of game time, especially in the pool-stage fixtures.

David Ribbans

The big former Northampton lock made a late, late run to the World Cup squad. But now that he is here England will need the physicality he brings to the game, and his impressive off-loading skills. Will be playing his club rugby at Toulon in France after the tournament and can make a big impression in the country ahead of his club move later in the year.

Bevan Rodd

An incredibly gifted footballer for a prop, Bevan can be like an extra back-row forward at times and is well known as one of the funniest men in the squad. It seems as though he should have more international caps than he does, given how much time he has spent in and around the squad. But playing in his first World Cup, I would expect to see plenty of impact when he gets onto the field.

Kyle Sinckler is not in England’s squad to face Argentina (Getty Images)
Kyle Sinckler is not in England’s squad to face Argentina (Getty Images)

Kyle Sinckler

This will be a pivotal tournament for Kyle, who will want to remember this World Cup for all the right reasons. The former Harlequins prop was so unfortunate in the final against South Africa four years ago in Japan, getting knocked out in the opening minutes and having to be withdrawn. This is a great chance for him to show the world just how good he really is.

Will Stuart

The Bath tight-head prop has ultimately become one of England’s go-to players. A very strong scrum technician but he also puts himself about in the field. Blessed with no shortage of footballing ability and seems to know where the tryline is, too. England will need men like Stuart to have their set-piece game in order for the team to be able to thrive in France.

Billy Vunipola

The talismanic No8 needs to repay Borthwick’s trust and loyalty with a big performance on the field, once he makes it there after his suspension. Loved by all at both Saracens and England, Billy has been given every chance to make it to the World Cup with his recovery from injury. Expect a big showing when he does return after missing the Argentina match due to his high-tackle ban.

Jack Walker

The Harlequins hooker will be battling it out with Theo Dan for minutes in this World Cup. There will be no shortage of hard work for front-row forwards at this tournament, given Borthwick’s love for and focus on the set-piece, which is a major feature of England’s game. Does not have many caps but has the full trust of England’s staff and is highly thought of in the Test set-up.

Jack Willis

From one Wasp to another, I am filled with pride at Jack’s development and tenacity to come through what he has and to reach a World Cup with England. What a wonderful tournament this could be for the man who won the French Top 14 last season with Toulouse. Has experienced every emotion, going from terrible injury to full recovery, losing his job and thriving again.

Owen Farrell

The much-maligned Owen Farrell is still England’s truly world-class player. Talisman, leader, one of the best players in the world; his influence on the team is apparent for everyone to see. He drives this team forward. He will be itching to get on the field and England will be much stronger on his return from suspension for his overall leadership.

Courtney Lawes will captain England in Owen Farrell’s absence (Getty Images)
Courtney Lawes will captain England in Owen Farrell’s absence (Getty Images)

Courtney Lawes

The totemic back-five forward will step up as captain during Owen Farrell’s suspension. Reached his 100th cap in that Fiji loss, to mix a major personal milestone with a dispiriting defeat. One of the more vocal players in the debrief since that Fiji match. Courtney is one of the easiest men and players to follow in any team, laid-back during the week but focused come kick-off. World-class on both sides of the ball and vital to England’s approach.

The boss - Steve Borthwick

Ex-England skipper is in the coach’s job a year ahead of schedule. Still sifting through Eddie Jones’s rubble. Clarity and detail are his watchwords. This World Cup might not be England’s time but he will lead them at the 2027 event, so this is an incredible learning curve.