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Vunipolas, Ford are casualties as Eddie Jones names England squad

By Liam Heagney

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Eddie Jones has set out his stall two years out from the 2023 World Cup in France, naming an England training squad that has excluded seasoned internationals such as Billy and Mako Vunipola and George Ford and included a raft of players such as Marcus Smith, who only earned their debuts caps in the recent summer series. The majority of England’s frontline had not been involved since last March’s derisory fifth place Six Nations finish.

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The likes of Vunipola and Ford were rested for the summer, others such as skipper Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje went touring with the Lions while Jones opted to cap 16 new players in the July Twickenham wins over the USA and Canada.

Faced with the challenge of marrying those different strands together, Jones has now unveiled a 45-man squad that will assemble next Sunday for a mini-training camp at The Lensbury ahead of an autumn programme featuring matches versus Tonga, Australia and South Africa. Also excluded are Saracens pair Jamie George and Elliot Daly, who has had an operation on a stress fracture and is unavailable until December.

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Mike Brown on the young players that caught his eye in the Gallagher Premiership
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Mike Brown on the young players that caught his eye in the Gallagher Premiership

It will be the first time England’s new coaching staff will work with the players after the appointments of Richard Cockerill, Martin Gleeson and Anthony Seibold over the summer. Lions pick sam Simmonds, last picked by England in March 2018, is included as are eight uncapped players: Mark Atkinson, Jack Kenningham, Louis Lynagh, Gabriel Oghre, Raffi Quirke, Sam Riley, Bevan Rodd and Ollie Sleightholme. Nine players who made their debuts in England’s summer series of fixtures have also been selected: Jamie Blamire, Trevor Davison, Alex Dombrandt, Joe Heyes, Lewis Ludlow, Adam Radwan, Harry Randall, Smith and Freddie Steward.

There are returns to the squad for senior and experienced players, including England’s second most-capped player Ben Youngs (109 caps), alongside Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Jonny May and Anthony Watson – all of whom have more than 50 caps.

“This is an exciting squad made up of experienced players and young guys who did well in the summer and earned their place again,” said Jones. “We have left out some experienced players but we’re really clear that the door isn’t closed to them, and we’re looking forward to seeing them work hard to get back into contention. We have five campaigns now until the 2023 World Cup so each one counts, and this is a chance for this 45 to impress the new coaching staff.”

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The exclusion of Vunipola will be a major blow for the Saracens No8, especially after what his club boss Mark McCall told RugbyPass last week when asked how the forward was shaping up after pre-season. “Good, really good. He has got the bit between his teeth. He is as fit as I have seen him in a long time. His leadership during the course of the pre-season with many other senior players not being here has been wonderful so we are looking forward to seeing him get stuck in.”

ENGLAND TRAINING SQUAD:
FORWARDS
Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps)
Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 31 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 33 caps)
Trevor Davison (Newcastle Falcons, 1 cap)
Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 1 cap)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 23 caps)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 30 caps)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps)
Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors, 2 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 48 caps)
Jack Kenningham (Harlequins, uncapped)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 87 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 10 caps)
Lewis Ludlow (Gloucester Rugby, 2 caps)
Joe Marler (Harlequins, 72 caps)
George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap)
Beno Obano (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
Gabriel Oghre (Wasps, uncapped)
Sam Riley (Harlequins, uncapped)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps)
Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 44 caps)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)
BACKS
Mark Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 93 caps)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 4 caps)
Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors, 7 caps)
Louis Lynagh (Harlequins, uncapped)
Max Malins (Saracens, 8 caps)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 6 caps)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 66 caps)
Raffi Quirke (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
Adam Radwan (Newcastle Falcons, 1 cap)
Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 2 caps)
Dan Robson (Wasps, 14 caps)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 40 caps)
Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 2 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 43 caps)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 51 caps)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 109 caps)

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Vunipolas, Ford are casualties as Eddie Jones names England squad

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