England pick crocked Curry for NZ tour

Tom Curry has been named in England’s squad for their tour of Japan and New Zealand despite a warning from his club coach that including him would be “guaranteed” to shorten his career.

The 25-year-old Sale flanker, whose twin brother Ben is also in the 36-man squad, has been included despite playing for just 34 minutes since last year’s World Cup.

Curry recovered from a hip injury he described as a “car crash” in time to make a brief appearance in Sale’s Premiership play-off semi-final defeat by Bath on June 1.

After the match Sharks boss Alex Sanderson warned that he should not be part of the England tour, which starts with a game against Japan later this month.

But England coach Steve Borthwick defended his decision after announcing his squad on Monday.

“Tom is a world-class player,” he said. “Anybody who watched the semi-final when he came off the bench and played that last 35 minutes of the game will have seen the impact he had.

“The respective medical and strength and conditioning with Sale and England have been liaising around Tom for a long period, as you would expect.”

Borthwick, a former England captain, added: “Most importantly was the conversation I had with Tom. We spoke about this series and this is a player who is desperate to be a part of this England team and wants to play in these games.

“Player welfare is vital to us and every report I’ve got from the people who understand the injuries and the knocks these people take far better than I do tell me that Tom is in fantastic condition.”

Northampton, who defeated Bath 25-21 in a thrilling Premiership final at Twickenham on Saturday, have a strong showing in the squad.

Their seven-man contingent includes uncapped wing Ollie Sleightholme, the leading try-scorer in the Premiership this season, with Saracens hooker Jamie George retained as captain.

“Ollie Sleightholme, clearly his point of difference is to beat defenders and find the try line,” said Borthwick.”

He also highlighted the defensive qualities of Sleightholme, the son of former England wing Jon Sleightholme.

“He’s a very effective defender,” said Borthwick. “You can see how important this defensive system has been to us, over just five games in the Six Nations. And we see him fitting into that system very, very well.”

England are without veterans Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes, both ineligible after joining French clubs, as well as the injured George Ford and Ellis Genge, while utility back Elliot Daly is unavailable following the birth of his first child.

Borthwick’s men will face a Japan side coached by former England boss Eddie Jones in Tokyo on June 22 before two Tests against the All Blacks, in Dunedin and Auckland, 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,” said 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.”

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

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