Eddie Jones has picked England squad to energise build-up to next World Cup

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·9 min read
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From l-r: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola. George Ford, Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly (injured) have all been left out the squad
From l-r: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola. George Ford, Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly (injured) have all been left out the squad
  • Eddie Jones names 45-man England training squad for two-day camp next week

  • Billy Vunipola, George Ford, Jamie George and Mako Vunipola all miss out - as reported by Telegraph Sport on Monday night

  • Elliot Daly ruled out until December with injury

  • England face Australia, Tonga and South Africa at Twickenham in November

As Eddie Jones said himself, it was about “drawing a line in the sand”.

The fifth-place finish in last season’s Six Nations Championship and the subsequent Lions tour of South Africa made conditions ripe for a major overhaul. And his selections in a 45-man training squad for the autumn internationals represent a seismic cull, more brutal than the gradual renewal of his squad through 2018, and arguably making a more thrilling statement of intent as his focus turns firmly to preparing for the 2023 World Cup.

The changing of the guard three years ago saw the easing out of established names, including his captain Dylan Hartley, Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and James Haskell. Jones later regretted not making the changes a year sooner.

This time he has backed his instincts, giving himself five campaigns until the World Cup to refresh, re-energise and infuse with a new generation of talent that has been tearing up the Premiership over the last 12 months.

Given the age profile and their influence in the squad, the omission of such high-profile names as George Ford, England’s starting fly-half in the last two World Cups, Jamie George, who was in strong contention to be Lions captain at the start of the year, fellow tourist in South Africa Mako Vunipola and brother Billy in a squad as big as this makes it clear that Jones intends to move in a new direction.

Elliot Daly is also not selected but this is because of injury, having just undergone an operation on a stress fracture and ruling him out of the autumn Test series. One wonders what the team will look like when he is fit to return.

Ford has been a central figure to ‘team’ England since Jones took charge in 2016, and one of his most trusted lieutenants, and given his close relationship with Owen Farrell it will no doubt have reminded the England captain that no-one is guaranteed their place.

It is as if Jones has been waiting for this moment, having been effectively treading water since the World Cup final defeat in 2019, to peel off the wrapping of his vision for a new-look England.

Equally as pointed to those names left out are the ones brought into contention for the autumn campaign against Tonga, South Africa and Australia.

The poster boy is Marcus Smith, the Harlequins fly-half whose end-of-season form earned him a late call-up to the Lions tour and who looks equipped with the game-breaking skills, and improving game-management, to state his case to start the autumn campaign.

Smith is one of nine players who made their debuts in England this summer to have been retained - Jamie Blamire, Trevor Davison, Alex Dombrandt, Joe Heyes, Lewis Ludlow, Adam Radwan, Harry Randall and Freddie Steward are the others.

There are also eight uncapped players in the squad - Mark Atkinson, Jack Kenningham, Louis Lynagh, Gabriel Oghre, Raffi Quirke, Sam Riley, Bevan Rodd and Ollie Sleightholme.

Jones is said to have been thoroughly impressed by Gloucester’s Ludlow, who was England’s captain for the summer Tests, while Steward leads a strong contingent of young guns coming through at Leicester under Steve Borthwick.

There is great expectation, too, for Lynagh, son of Wallaby legend Michael, who also qualifies for Australia and Italy and who scored twice for Quins in their Premiership final victory. Radwan is also a fantastic prospect and looks to have carried on his form following a hat-trick on debut against Canada. Randall and Quirke, meanwhile, will be pushing hard for contention at scrum-half.

Sam Simmonds, despite not making a huge impact for the Lions in South Africa, also makes a significant return to the squad for the first time since 2018. It is great to see Joe Marler back in the mix, too, given his form at the end of last season. If the Harlequin, who withdrew from the Six Nations last season, can be persuaded to commit to the next two years, England can build their scrum around him.

The naming of two uncapped hookers in Oghre and Riley, a Six Nations grand-slam winner with England Under-20s, and the inclusion of Leicester’s highly-rated tighthead prop Joe Heyes, underscores the sense of upheaval in the forward options.

The selection of Atkinson suggests that age has not been the sole criteria for ushering in the new era. Jones clearly wants to broaden his power options at inside centre and Atkinson now has the chance to put his hand up to join Manu Tuilagi as a midfield carrier.

The start of the countdown to the World Cup will focus minds and Jones has the added challenge of knitting together yet another coaching ticket, with Martin Gleenson, Anthony Seibold and Richard Cockerill effectively given a blank sheet of paper to draw up their plans.

There is more than enough time to blend together a new team with a fresh style of play and in many ways this is when Jones comes into his own, when the clock is ticking. In making such radical changes, this time he has left no stone unturned.

Squad announcement - as it happened

08:50 AM

Elliot Daly

The Saracens and Lions full-back will be out until December after having an operation, Eddie Jones confirms.

08:00 AM

Squad announced

No Billy Vunipola, no Mako Vunipola, no George Ford, no Elliot Daly, as reported by Telegraph Sport last night.

There are eight uncapped players in the squad: Mark Atkinson, Jack Kenningham, Louis Lynagh, Gabriel Oghre, Raffi Quirke, Sam Riley, Bevan Rodd and Ollie Sleightholme.

And a return for Joe Marler!

For anyone who has been waiting patiently for the news, we must apologise for the delay. Our systems have been down since 8.30am - but thanks for bearing with us.

07:28 AM

Scrum-half

It is somewhat of a problem child for Eddie Jones. The incumbent and most experienced, is Ben Youngs, but will he still be a world-beating No 9 by the time of the 2023 World Cup?

If not, then who's next on the production line? Ben Spencer, Dan Robson, and Willi Heinz are the more established names, but neither has ever managed to usurp Youngs. Care's international days are, seemingly, behind him.

The brightest talents are the youngest - Quirke of Sale, Van Poortvliet of Leicester and Randall of Bristol - but are they experienced enough to lead England to World Cup glory? Of course, there is only one way to earn experience, and that's by being selected and playing...

07:19 AM

In case you missed it

Read this wonderful feature from Charlie Morgan, as Expected Points arrives in rugby.

What xP is, how it works and why it could change the sport forever...

Jac Morgan of Scarlets in action during the Guinness Pro14 Rainbow Cup match between the Scarlets and Edinburgh Rugby at Parc y Scarlets on June 13, 2021 in Llanelli, Wales - GETTY IMAGES
Jac Morgan of Scarlets in action during the Guinness Pro14 Rainbow Cup match between the Scarlets and Edinburgh Rugby at Parc y Scarlets on June 13, 2021 in Llanelli, Wales - GETTY IMAGES

07:12 AM

Thoughts?

Who would you like to see in? Let me know in the comments.

Personally, the Newcastle guys who impressed in the summer - Chick, Radwan, and hooker Jamie Blamire - deserve another shot, as does Leicester prop Joe Heyes.

Other names I'd like to see in the mix? Steward, Furbank, Quirke, Van Poortvliet, Martin, Rodd...

For what it's worth, I am flabbergasted that George Ford is one of the vulnerable names - he was immaculate for Leicester against Exeter on Saturday.

06:46 AM

Good morning

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport's live coverage of today's England squad announcement, where Eddie Jones will unveil a 45-man training squad for a two-day camp in London next week.

The big news overnight, from deputy rugby correspondent, Dan Schofield, is that Billy Vunipola is set to be left out of today's announcement, as Jones looks to shake-up his selection entering the two-year countdown to the 2023 World Cup.

Telegraph Sport understands that fly-half George Ford, prop Mako Vunipola and utility back Elliot Daly are also at risk of missing out despite Jones announcing an enlarged 45-man squad for a two-day get-together at the start of next week. Their omissions would not preclude their selection for the autumn internationals against Australia, Tonga and South Africa, however they would send a very strong message that Jones is no longer prepared to keep faith with the cohort of players that reached the 2019 World Cup final.

After coming fifth in this year’s Six Nations, which equalled England’s worst-ever finish, and handing out 16 new caps in the summer internationals against USA and Canada, Jones seems set to turn over a new leaf in selection. In the place of Billy Vunipola, Harlequins’ Alex Dombrandt, Exeter’s Sam Simmonds and Newcastle’s Callum Chick are in line to receive call ups as No 8 options.

After scoring a hat-trick on his debut against Canada, Adam Radwan will also be included. Other young guns who are understood to have made the cut include Freddie Steward, the Leicester full-back who was seriously impressive against Exeter Chiefs, and the uncapped Sale Sharks pair Raffi Quirke and Bevan Rodd.

At the opposite end of the age spectrum, there is a strong suggestion that Jones was considering a recall for Joe Marler, the 31-year-old Harlequins loosehead who has pulled out of previous England camps, at the expense of Mako Vunipola, who toured with the Lions. Manu Tuilagi is also set to be included after his long line of injury problems.

Jones will be able to call upon the rest of his Lions contingent for the training camp which will take place at the Lensbury Club in Teddington from Sunday through to Tuesday. The assembled players will meet the new coaching team including attack Martin Gleeson and forwards coach Richard Cockerill for the first time.

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