Former Osprey Sam Underhill Makes England Return For World Cup

BATH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Sam Underhill of Bath takes on Paddy Jackson and James Stokes of London Irish during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bath Rugby and London Irish at Recreation Ground on February 18, 2023 in Bath, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Former Osprey Sam Underhill Makes England Return For World Cup

By Paul Jones

Former Ospreys flanker Sam Underhill has made England’s initial 28-player Rugby World Cup training squad – despite not having played for his country for almost a year.

The Bath forward has been included in the group named by head coach Steve Borthwick alongside former Cardiff Met No.8 Alex Dombrandt.

Underhill, 26, last played for England in July 2022 and has been troubled by injuries since that date, including head knocks.

But Underhill and Dombrndt have been included by Borthwick, alongside Zach Mercer, Danny Care and Val Rapava-Ruskin who are the headline inclusions.

The England squad assembled at their Rugby Performance centre in Pennyhill Park on Monday, before the opening World Cup warm-up clash on August 5 against Wales in Cardiff.

Back-row Mercer, who has been ineligible for England selection since departing Bath for Montpellier in 2021, is included in the preparation camp as he is joining Gloucester ahead of next season.
With no players involved from Premiership semi-finalists Saracens, Sale, Leicester or Northampton, due to the requirement for player rest, 36-year-old Harlequins scrum-half Care is a surprise recall.

Gloucester loosehead prop Val Rapava-Ruskin, who is Georgian-born and an U19 international for Los Lelos, also makes the squad, and is currently uncapped at senior level.

Meanwhile, Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers) and Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs) will also attend the camp to continue their rehabilitation from injury.

“We are excited to get into camp and begin the first phase of our preparations,” said Borthwick.

“The World Cup is full of top-quality teams and high-quality players, and we’re relishing the challenge in front of us. That all starts today at Pennyhill Park.

“We have lots to get through before our first Summer Series fixture in August against Wales in Cardiff, so the hard work starts now. We are looking forward to it.”

Borthwick will announce his final 33-player Rugby World Cup squad on Monday August 7, with England’s Rugby World Cup campaign beginning against Argentina in Marseille on Saturday September 9.

England’s initial 28-player RWC training squad:

Forwards (15)

Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons)

Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins)

Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby)

Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)

Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears)

Ted Hill (Bath Rugby)

Joe Marler (Harlequins)

Zach Mercer (Montpellier Hérault Rugby)

Beno Obano (Bath Rugby)

Tom Pearson (London Irish)

Val Rapava-Ruskin (Gloucester Rugby)

Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears)

Will Stuart (Bath Rugby)

Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)

Jack Walker (Harlequins)

Backs (13)

Henry Arundell (London Irish)

Danny Care (Harlequins)

Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby)

Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish)

Will Joseph (London Irish)

Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby)

Joe Marchant (Harlequins)

Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)

Cadan Murley (Harlequins)

Harry Randall (Bristol Bears)

Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

Marcus Smith (Harlequins)

Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby)

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