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.
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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.
England have called on players outside their RWC 31 for Friday's game with Italy and assistant Steve Borthwick explains why
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 4, 2019
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:
Why has Jones named 3 people who aren't going to Japan.. Specifically Kvesic (who I highly rate) when he hasn't been involved in the squad in ages!
— Zac (@rugbyguy92) September 4, 2019
Why is Matt Kvesic on the bench when he hasn’t made the WC squad? Baffled pic.twitter.com/YMUWM1j6ux
— #Ratty (@Craig_Ratford) September 4, 2019
Now Kvesic gets a chance ? https://t.co/G8GHrEk4wP
— Sir Septimus Pyecroft (@SirPyecroft) September 4, 2019
Kvesic was stand out premiership backrow/8 last season. Should be on the plane anyway.
— Jim Bryan (@jbryan47) September 4, 2019
Also notices Matt Kvesic as a finisher. Strange one. Is EJ making sure he has players ready to fly in to Japan should injuries occur?
— Peter Scott (@PRS_rugbycoach) September 4, 2019
I don't get why Eddie is selecting Marchant and Kvesic? Unless he's anticipating the injuries already?
— Darren Beardon (@DSBeardon) September 4, 2019
Insulting if you ask me. Why not bring through a rated youngster far more on his radar eg Mercer, Curry, Hill etc? Just an insult to Kvesic to ask him to stand in briefly. Standard Eddie IMO
— Hugh Walker (@HughWalker15) September 4, 2019
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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