Eddie Jones has named his England team to play Italy in their final match before the World Cup, calling upon three players that are not part of the 31-man squad travelling to Japan. 


Joe Marchant starts at outside centre, while Charlie Ewels and Matt Kvesic are on the bench to face Conor O’Shea’s side at St James’ Park on Friday. 

The Exeter Chiefs’ Kvesic is a surprise addition to the squad after his exile from the England team for three years. He earned his only cap under Jones in 2016 and has barely been part of the picture since then. 

Despite being on the shortlist for Premiership player of the year award, the 27-year-old was not selected for any of England’s training squads this summer and was only drafted into training long after the final World Cup squad was announced. 

His inclusion is something that fans were calling for all last season on social media and the timing of his call-up now has confused many. 

(Continue reading below…)

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With the success of playing both Tom Curry and Sam Underhill alongside each other against Ireland, Jones is maybe testing having another natural openside flanker in the squad, but it is hard to see what Kvesic can do from the bench two weeks before the World Cup. 

The 23-year-old Marchant is a player that Jones is priming for a role in the future and that is why he has been called up after earning his first cap in August. 

Likewise, Ewels is a player that has been in and out of the squad during Jones’ tenure. On the other hand, Kvesic has been largely ignored by Jones, only making a bench appearance in May 2016 against Wales. 


The three-cap Kvesic’s form over the last year means he is undeniably worthy of a place in the England set-up, but it is the 11th-hour nature of his call-up that fans are questioning. This is what has been said: 

What these three selections do indicate is that these may be the three players that are the back-up options should injuries occur in Japan. 

Kvesic played a lot of rugby at No8 for Exeter last season and that versatility will help, but it still seems late in the day to try him out if that is the case. 

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