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England squad includes 6 uncapped players but no recall for Ford

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has named a 36-strong squad for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations that includes six uncapped players – Orlando Bailey, Alfie Barbeary, Ollie Chessum, Tommy Freeman, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Luke Northmore – but no recalls for George Ford or the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako. The absence of that trio was regularly debated during the recent Autumn Nations Series.

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With no Ford in reserve, England had to start full-back George Furbank at out-half in the opener versus Tonga. They also encountered severe disruption at loosehead minus Mako Vunipola when Ellis Genge and Joe Marler were forced into isolation, leaving rookie Bevan Rodd to start against the Wallabies and the Springboks with fellow rookie Trevor Davison providing cover in that Australian match. 

Ford and the Vunipolas have impressed over the winter for their respective clubs, Leicester and Saracens, but that effort has held no sway and they will not be involved when the latest England group chosen by Jones meets in Brighton next Monday, January 24, to begin training for the Six Nations. They will then continue their preparations the following week for their February 5 opening game against Scotland at the England training centre at Pennyhill Park.

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Eddie Jones announces England’s new-generation 2022 Six Nations squad
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Eddie Jones announces England’s new-generation 2022 Six Nations squad

Skipper Owen Farrell and his Saracens teammate Jamie George are included by Jones even though they have played little or no club rugby since their respective injuries picked up playing for England (Farrell is due to return next weekend while George has played twice) but there was no spot for Manu Tuilagi, a try-scorer versus the Springboks who hasn’t played since for Sale. Another high profile absentee from the win over South Africa is Sam Underhill. He started that game at openside but he has recently been sidelined with a head knock picked up while playing for Bath. 

Nic Dolly, who debuted off the bench against the world champions, is omitted now that Luke Cowan-Dickie is fit again. Jack Nowell, Cowan-Dickie’s Exeter teammate, is also back in the squad having last played for England in October 2019. Adam Radwan loses out. “Selecting this squad has been a difficult task. We have got plenty of good young players coming through and some of our more experienced are rediscovering their best form,” said Jones.

We think this 36 for the first training week reflects a good balance of that experience and up-and-coming talent. In Brighton, we will focus on getting the fundamentals of our game in play right and developing the cohesion of the team. The Six Nations is going to be the most competitive we have ever seen. All the countries performed well in the autumn, so we need to be at our best and improve with every game.”

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It was October 18 when Jones named a 34-strong squad for the Autumn Nations Series, including four uncapped players and eight others who had made their Test debut in the summer series last July.

The coach had opted to cast his net wide following his team’s fifth-place finish in the 2021 Six Nations, a tournament where he chose a streamlined 28-man squad due to concerns at the time regarding the pandemic for a competition that took place beyond closed doors with no fans present at any of the matches. 

That limited choice backfired and it left Jones under pressure to shake things up, something he has managed to do with England since embarking on a five-match unbeaten run that featured multiple fresh faces in their teams. Now he has welcomed even more newcomers to the Test level fold. 

ENGLAND SQUAD 2022 SIX NATIONS
FORWARDS (19)
Alfie Barbeary (Wasps, uncapped)
Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 5 caps)
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 31 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 36 caps)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 4 caps)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 26 caps)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 61 caps)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 51 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 90 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 10 caps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 74 caps)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 47 caps)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 15 caps)

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BACKS (17)
Mark Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap)
Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 94 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 5 caps)
Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish, uncapped)
Max Malins (Saracens, 10 caps)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 7 caps)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 69 caps)
Luke Northmore (Harlequins, uncapped)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 34 caps)
Raffi Quirke (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)
Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 2 caps)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 43 caps)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 5 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 112 caps)

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