Head coach Eddie Jones is rumoured to be set to reveal at least one major omission when he names his England training squad for Italy this morning.
Owen Farrell has not played since the first week of September and with no George Kruis, Manu Tuilagi or Courtney Lawes and significant doubt over Elliot Daly and George Ford, it was always going to be a fascinating selection for the England boss.
However, double-winning Exeter Chiefs flyhalf Joe Simmonds may be set to be left out of Jones’ plans, despite concerns over Farrell and Ford. Simmonds is arguably the form playmaker in English rugby, but he is yet to be involved in an England training camp.
Simmonds led Exeter to victory in both the European Champions Cup and the Gallagher Premiership Final, but his rapid rise may not have been enough to tempt Jones to select him, who is instead set to go with incumbents Farrell, Ford and Wasps star Jacob Umaga.
England’s preparation for the Six Nations decider against Italy has been less than ideal, with their match with the Barbarians cancelled after at least 12 BaBas players left their hotel’s Covid bubble.
Exeter Chiefs chairman Tony Rowe may not have helped Simmonds cause, with comments he made about England over the weekend. Rowe said: “We employ the players, they are our players. Being forced to release them for so many international games is not good. We don’t get compensated enough.
“The reality is that we bred these guys for ourselves, we didn’t breed them for England.
“England can get too greedy. They are very quick to run the other way when we want money. At the moment we are desperate for money in the Premiership to stay alive.
“We are one of the wealthier clubs and we will see it through, but there are some clubs that are really struggling and we should be able to turn to the Rugby Football Union for financial support because they turn to us when they want our players.”
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