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Five uncapped players in official England squad as big names miss out

By PA
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Mark McCall, (L) the Saracens director of rugby celebrates with Theo Dan after their victory during the Gallagher Premiership Final between Saracens and Sale Sharks at Twickenham Stadium on May 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Uncapped Saracens hooker Theo Dan has been selected in England’s 41-strong World Cup training squad.

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Dan, 22, only made his Saracens debut in November 2021, but he delivered a series of impressive displays during the club’s Gallagher Premiership title-winning campaign last season.

There is also a call-up for uncapped back-row forward Tom Willis, who currently plays for Bordeaux-Begles. He joins his brother Jack in the squad.

But Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie has lost his battle to recover in time from a shoulder injury and will not be considered for World Cup selection, the Rugby Football Union announced.

England head coach Steve Borthwick said: “Despite all his incredible work and progress, Luke’s shoulder has not improved sufficiently for him to be considered for selection for the World Cup. We wish him a swift recovery and hope to see him back playing very soon.”

Players named in Borthwick’s previous training group to miss out include Gloucester-bound number eight Zach Mercer, Northampton scrum-half Alex Mitchell and Bath flanker Ted Hill.

Dan is among a sizeable group from Premiership finalists Saracens and Sale Sharks called up by Borthwick after they completed a mandatory rest period.

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That contingent includes the likes of Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Manu Tuilagi, George Ford and Jonny Hill.

Dan and Tom Willis apart, the other uncapped players are Harlequins wing Cadan Murley, Gloucester prop Val Rapava-Ruskin and London Irish flanker Tom Pearson.

And although not named in the squad, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Ollie Lawrence, Ollie Chessum and Jack Walker will continue their rehabilitation from injuries and remain in contention for England’s final 33-man World Cup group to be announced on August 7.

Borthwick added: “We’re excited to be able to bring a full training squad together for the first time and focus on the next stage of our World Cup preparations.

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“I am pleased with the balance of the squad, which blends experience with youth.

“Our preparation camps over the last three weeks have allowed those players who didn’t feature in the Premiership final to start to get physically-equipped for a World Cup campaign.

“The attitude of the players has been excellent, and I have seen a group who have wholeheartedly committed to what we have asked of them.”

England play four World Cup warm-up games in August, facing Wales home and away, Ireland and Fiji, before their tournament opener against Argentina in Marseille on September 9.

Training squad: Backs – H Arundell (London Irish), D Care (Harlequins), J Cokanasiga (Bath), E Daly (Saracens), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Sale Sharks), M Malins (Saracens), J Marchant (Harlequins), J May (Gloucester), C Murley (Harlequins), G Porter (Leicester), H Slade (Exeter), M Smith (Harlequins), F Steward (Leicester), M Tuilagi (Sale Sharks), J van Poortvliet (Leicester), A Watson (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester).

Forwards – J Blamire (Newcastle), D Cole (Leicester), T Curry (Sale Sharks), T Dan (Saracens), A Dombrandt (Harlequins), B Earl (Saracens), E Genge (Bristol), J George (Saracens), J Hill (Sale Sharks), M Itoje (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton), L Ludlam (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), G Martin (Leicester), T Pearson (London Irish), V Rapava-Ruskin (Gloucester), D Ribbans (Northampton), B Rodd (Sale Sharks), K Sinckler (Bristol), W Stuart (Bath), S Underhill (Bath), J Willis (Toulouse), T Willis (Bordeaux-Begles).

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