Eddie Jones rings the changes for England’s tour of Argentina
Fifteen uncapped players included as coach opts for young squad in South America
Eddie Jones: “We have focused particularly on youth because we want to find players who are going to be better than the 16 players going on the Lions tour.” Photograph: Paul Childs Livepic/Reuters
Fifteen uncapped players will be heading to South America for two Tests in June with Sale’s cross-code wing Denny Solomona and Auckland’s Piers Francis among some eye-catching inclusions in a 31-man party.
Several of Jones’s picks are still in their teens. Sale’s 18-year-old twins Ben and Tom Curry are joined by two 19-year-olds in the Saracens’ lock Nick Isiekwe and the London Irish wing Joe Cokanasiga.
Among other up-and-coming talents named are the 20-year-old Exeter scrum-half Jack Maunder, the athletic Saracens winger Nathan Earle and Northampton’s Harry Mallinder.
Of the 14 backs named, nine are uncapped at senior level with the former Castleford wing Solomona, the Northampton-bound fly-half/centre Francis and Maunder, who only made his Premiership debut in the autumn, all in line to feature in the matchday 23 under Dylan Hartley’s captaincy.
For those omitted from this England squad and the Lions equation, however, a period of introspection looms.
This, clearly, is all part of Jones’s strategy: he remains determined to re-energise all connected with English rugby with a view to unearthing “three or four” surprise contenders for his 2019 Rugby World Cup squad.
“We have focused particularly on youth because we want to find players who are going to be better than the 16 players going on the Lions tour,” said Jones. “To win the World Cup we need to have the best talent; that is our ultimate destiny.”
That will be scant consolation for, among others, Christian Wade, Tommy Taylor, Dan Robson, Mike Haley, Josh Beaumont, Don Armand, Marland Yarde, Semesa Rokoduguni, Teimana Harrison, Danny Cipriani and Mike Williams, all of whom would have regarded the Tests in San Juan (June 10th) and Santa Fe (June 17th) as a perfect opportunity to push their international credentials.
Jones, though, is adamant no one should assume anything, his senior players included.
“If they’re not keen to tour they won’t play for England again, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
ENGLAND (squad for two-Test tour of Argentina):
Forwards: W Collier (Harlequins), L Cowan-Dickie (Exeters), B Curry (Sale), T Curry (Sale), C Ewels (Bath), E Genge (Leicesters), D Hartley (Northampton capt), J Haskell (Wasps), P Hill (Northampton), N Hughes (Wasps), N Isiekwe (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), M Mullan (Wasps), C Robshaw (Harlequins), S Underhill (Ospreys/Bath, H Williams (Exeters), T Wood (Northampton).
Backs: M Brown (Harlequins), D Care (Harlequins), J Cokanasiga (London Irish), N Earle (Saracens), G Ford (Bath), P Francis (Blues), S James (Sale), A Lozowski (Saracens), H Mallinder (Northampton), J Marchant (Harlequins), J Maunder (Exeter), J May (Gloucester), H Slade (Exeters), D Solomona (Sale).