Ruthless Eddie Jones wields the axe as he DROPS senior stars Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George AND George Ford from his first England squad of the season
- Eddie Jones axed several senior stars from his England squad on Tuesday
- The England coach picked his squad of players for a two-day camp next week
- Jones used the opportunity to lay down a message by dropping big-name stars
- Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and George Ford were all omitted
Eddie Jones began the ‘last chapter’ of his England career with one of the biggest squad overhauls of his six-year tenure on Tuesday.
The national coach dropped four of his most-capped players for next week’s training camp — warning them to sharpen up their performances if they want to make the World Cup.
It was labelled a ‘line in the sand’ moment, as George Ford, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola and Jamie George made way for the likes of Marcus Smith, Louis Lynagh, Sam Simmonds and Gabriel Oghre.
Eddie Jones named his first England squad of the season on Tuesday morning
Billy Vunipola (left) and Mako Vunipola (right) were notable omissions from the 45-man squad
The door was left open for potential comebacks and retained skipper Owen Farrell was told to get back to his best. But a new generation have been given a chance to hold the baton for Jones’ final leg.
‘It is the last chapter for me, the last two years, and I have never been so excited in my life,’ said Jones.
‘After the Lions tour you draw bit of a line in the sand because then you’re into the last two years before the World Cup. We’ve got five campaigns and each time we pick the squad we want it to be a bit stronger.
‘We are now selecting with the World Cup in mind. Some of the experienced players we’ve left out, we feel this is a good time for them to refresh and get ready to challenge again.
‘They’re all good players. When they are at their best, they are going to be in strong contention.
THE UNCAPPED EIGHT
Position: Back three
Fact: Son of Australian World Cup winner Michael, qualifies for Italy and Australia via parents. Scored in June’s Premiership final which Quins won.
Fact: Quins season-ticket holder turned Premiership winner. Studied at Bath University before making league debut last season. Picked in the summer but injury denied him a cap.
Fact: British-Nigerian Millfield schoolboy. Likened to Springbok Schalk Brits for his dynamic style.
Fact: Only made his Premiership debut on Sunday, but was part of the England U20s Six Nations Grand-Slam winning side, scoring in all but one game.
Fact: Scottish qualified, as born in Dunoon, but grew up on the Isle of Man. Played for England U16s and 18s while at Sedburgh school.
Fact: Played 102 Premiership games for Gloucester. Once played rugby against England cricketer Jonny Bairstow.
Fact: Full name Raphael. Backed to be the next Faf de Klerk at Sale. Irish qualified. Was a triathlon champion as a kid.
Fact: Son of Jon, who won 12 England caps. A pacy winger who played youth Sevens and in XVs age-group sides.
‘There are a lot of young players coming through so the competition is hot. It’s hot. They need to find their best.
‘They probably haven’t been at their best over the last period of time, so we are giving them the opportunity to find their best.’
Utility back Elliot Daly missed out on the squad because of a stress fracture to his leg, having played through the injury on this summer’s Lions tour.
Jones refused to dwell upon the Lions’ series defeat in South Africa, but admitted skipper Farrell needs to rediscover his form, having not started a single Test.
‘Go on one of the chat shows and they will tell you all about the Lions,’ said Jones. ‘I am not a television commentator.
‘All I am worried about is this mini-camp. I am not here to talk about the Lions. All I am worried about is getting Owen back to his best.
‘He had Covid before the Six Nations, his team were in the Championship, they had spasmodic training sessions and he didn’t get high quality games.
‘He has not been at his best over the last period of time but I am convinced that we can get him back to his best and then we will decide the leadership of the team.
George Ford was also dropped and won’t take part in next week’s two-day training camp
‘At this stage, there is no reason why he won’t be captain. I have got no doubt that Owen will be back to his best by the autumn.’
Eight uncapped players were named in the 45-man squad, alongside 10 players who made their debut during the summer.
Jones believes the game will become faster ahead of the 2023 World Cup, with rookie No10 Smith widely tipped to lead the team forward.
‘Young Marcus thought he was in trouble in that Canada game, didn’t he, when he gets a plane ticket to the Lions,’ quipped Jones.
‘You’ve just got to see the way that Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga are playing for the All Blacks, what’s needed in a modern No10.
‘He can take the line on, can be aggressive, know when to hold his depth and be an extra man in defence.
‘And that’s what we’re looking at for him to develop his game.’
ENGLAND’S FULL 45-MAN SQUAD
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)
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)