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Eddie Jones turns to Vunipola as Australia tour squad named

By PA
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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England have turned to Billy Vunipola as the solution to their crisis at number eight after Eddie Jones recalled the powerful Saracens forward for next month’s tour to Australia.

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Injuries to Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds have opened the door for Vunipola to make his first international appearance since last year’s Six Nations.

The 29-year-old had not appeared in an England squad until Jones named his 36-man touring party to face the Wallabies over three Tests, starting in Perth on Saturday week.

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Eddie Jones reacts to big loss to Barbarians | England vs Barbarians | Press Conference
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Eddie Jones reacts to big loss to Barbarians | England vs Barbarians | Press Conference

England have turned to Billy Vunipola as the solution to their crisis at number eight after Eddie Jones recalled the powerful Saracens forward for next month’s tour to Australia.

Injuries to Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds have opened the door for Vunipola to make his first international appearance since last year’s Six Nations.

The 29-year-old had not appeared in an England squad until Jones named his 36-man touring party to face the Wallabies over three Tests, starting in Perth on Saturday week.

Vunipola was knocked out in the closing stages of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final defeat by Leicester and a day later Jones suggested he would not be able to tour because of the head injury. He will compete with Tom Curry for the number eight jersey.

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Joe Marler and Ben Youngs are notable absentees from the group that will depart for Australia on Tuesday, but veteran scrum-half Danny Care is present as he nudges closer to winning his first cap since 2018.

London Irish’s 19-year-old sensation Henry Arundell has been included after missing Sunday’s rout by the Barbarians because of a muscle strain, although he has been denoted as an ‘apprentice player’.

Jones said: “Though we have nine players unavailable due to injury, we have picked a very strong squad capable of winning the series. This squad is a real mix of young, talented players and some very experienced, senior players and we’re looking forward to bring the group together.

“This tour will be a great experience for the group and a crucial part of the team’s work towards the Rugby World Cup in 2023. We will continue to develop the base of the squad and how we want to play.

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“We’ve put a lot of work into preparation for the tour over the past few weeks but now the hard work really begins when we finally get the squad on the plane and to Australia.”

FORWARDS
Ollie Chessum
Luke Cowan-Dickie
Tom Curry
Charlie Ewels
Ellis Genge
Jamie George
Joe Heyes
Jonny Hill
Nick Isiekwe
Maro Itoje
Courtney Lawes
Lewis Ludlam
Bevan Rodd
Patrick Schickerling (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
Will Stuart
Sam Underhill
Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 61 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 67 caps)
Jack Walker (Harlequins, uncapped)
Jack Willis (Wasps, 3 caps)

BACKS
Henry Arundell (London Irish, uncapped) *apprentice player
Danny Care (Harlequins, 84 caps)
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 11 caps)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Owen Farrell
Tommy Freeman
George Furbank
Will Joseph (London Irish, uncapped) *apprentice player
Joe Marchant
Jonny May
Jack Nowell
Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Harry Randall
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Marcus Smith
Freddie Steward

Unavailable for selection due to injury: Alex Dombrandt, George Ford, Joe Launchbury, Louis Lynagh, Sam Simmonds, Kyle Sinckler, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Nic Dolly and Anthony Watson.

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