George Ford, Billy and Mako Vunipola and Jamie George have all been left out of England's 45-man training squad with Eddie Jones handing eye-catching recalls to Sam Simmonds and Joe Marler. Ford and Billy Vunipola were both rested by Jones over the summer, while Mako Vunipola and George toured with the British & Irish Lions, and all four are conspicuous by their absence in the first squad of the new season.
Simmonds also toured with the Lions and won his last cap for England in 2018 with Jones frequently ignoring calls to select the Exeter No 8. He comes back in for the brief camp next week in Teddington, however, as does Joe Marler, who has not played for England since the end of 2020, having opted out of the Six Nations.
Elsewhere, there are eight uncapped players in the squad, including a first call-up for the Harlequins wing Louis Lynagh, who is also eligible for Australia and Italy, while his clubmates Sam Riley and Jack Kenningham are also selected. The Sale scrum-half Raffi Quirke and Northampton’s Ollie Sleightholme are among the uncapped players.
Jones has made clear the door is not shut on Ford, George and the Vunipolas – Elliot Daly is also absent but it is understood he is injured – and this is, after all, only a brief training camp, but their omission feels potentially significant with England ramping up their preparations for the 2023 World Cup. Marcus Smith, who enjoyed such a fine season with Harlequins before being seconded to the Lions, has been selected and is the incumbent No 10 for England, having impressed against the USA and Canada over the summer.
As reported by the Guardian, Billy Vunipola has been left out having struggled for his best form for some time. He played all 80 minutes of Saracens’ win over Bristol on Friday in front of Jones and had come to be seen as undroppable by the head coach. Simmonds’ selection instead feels like a possible changing of the guard. Mako Vunipola, meanwhile, started the second Test defeat for the Lions in South Africa but Marler appears to have been preferred.
The other uncapped inclusions are the Gloucester centre Mark Atkinson, the Wasps hooker Gabriel Oghre, and Bevan Rodd of Sale. There are also nine more players who made their debuts over the summer including Leicester’s Freddie Steward, the Newcastle wing Adam Radwan and Alex Dombrandt. Lewis Ludlow, who was named captain for both matches, Joe Heyes, Jamie Blamire, Trevor Davison, Harry Randall and Callum Chick are the others.
Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs are among the senior players who missed out on the Lions squad but have been included, as is Jonny May. Including Smith and Simmonds, Jones has also called up 10 of England’s 13 Lions contingent despite the fact that they are in the middle of a 10-week rest period.
Jones said: “This is an exciting squad made up of experienced players and young guys who did well in the summer and have earned their place again. 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.” - Guardian