Eddie Jones has made eight changes to his 25-man squad and has dispensed with more than 200 England Test caps for next week's Six Nations game against Ireland.
The most noticeable absentee is George Ford who has seen his hold on the number 10 jersey wrenched from his grasp by Marcus Smith. Ford, who will be leaving Leicester Tigers at the end of the season for a move to Sale Sharks, had only recently found his way back in the England fold but played only 22 minutes against Scotland and Italy and was an unused substitute in the win over Wales. Elliot Daly is the other surprise omission in the backline given he has started two of England's matches at 13 this campaign.
In their place comes the uncapped London Irish wing Olli Hassell-Collins and Northampton’s George Furbank who can cover both 10 and 15 off the bench.
The forward pack sees a raft of changes with an entirely new front row set. Luke-Cowan Dickie’s selection was unlikely following a knee injury he sustained against Wales. He’s been replaced by Newcastle’s Jamie Blamire. Props Joe Marler and Ollie Chessum also miss out. The uncapped duo of William Goodrick-Clarke and Alfie Barberry will, if given the chance, provide evidence of England’s front-row reserves against a formidable Irish pack.
At 30 years old and with 69 appearances for his country, Joe Launchbury could play in his first Test since December 2020. The Wasps second-rower injured his knee last April which ruled him out of contention for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa. But he’s registered 281 minutes from four English Premiership starts for his club since January. His return to fitness and form means the 21-year-old Chessum misses out.
Gloucester's Lewis Ludlow is the final addition to the squad. He will serve as cover for the injured Tom Curry who missed the second half against Wales after failing a head injury assessment (HIA) at the interval. Without Curry, who captained his team in the tournament opener against Scotland, England's potency at the breakdown is greatly diminished.
Jones might then rethink persisting with Courtney Lawes on the flank of the scrum and might be tempted to pair him with Maro Itoje in the second row to plug the gap left by Curry. Judging by the experience he’s left behind in key positions, England’s coach has something new in mind for the must-win game next Saturday. - Guardian
England 25-man training squad:
Forwards: A Barbeary (Wasps), J Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), A Dombrandt (Harlequins), C Ewels (Bath Rugby), E Genge (Leicester Tigers), J George (Saracens), W Goodrick-Clarke (London Irish), M Itoje (Saracens), N Isiekwe (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), L Ludlow (Gloucester Rugby), S Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), K Sinckler (Bristol Bears), W Stuart (Bath Rugby).
Backs: G Furbank (Northampton Saints), O Hassell-Collins (London Irish), M Malins (Saracens), J Marchant (Harlequins), J Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), H Randall (Bristol Bears), H Slade (Exeter Chiefs), M Smith (Harlequins), F Steward (Leicester Tigers), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).