George Ford and Billy Vunipola are among the senior players absent from an England training squad next week, but Eddie Jones has called up eight uncapped players – including the Harlequins starlet Louis Lynagh.
Ford and Vunipola, both of whom have more than 50 caps, were rested for the summer’s Tests against the USA and Canada, and have not been recalled to a 45-man group.
Jones insisted the door is not closed for the senior figures, but said that halfway through the World Cup cycle it was time to “draw a line in the sand” and refresh the squad.
“We are now selecting with the World Cup in mind and some of the experienced players we have left out, we feel that this is a good time for them to refresh and get ready to challenge again for a spot,” he said.
“We are building the team towards the World Cup, and at a World Cup you want to have a nice balance of experienced players and young, fresh, enthusiastic players who can add to the squad.”
Jones said he had a “very uncomfortable” day on Monday, informing players they had been left out.
“For those players the door's not closed, it's just an opportunity for them to refresh and refocus,” he said. “You've got to also realise we're coming off the back of what has been two difficult seasons for the players and some of those players went on a Lions tour so we just think there's an opportunity for them to regroup and refocus and then challenge again.
“When they are at their best, they are going to be in strong contention. There is a lot of good 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.”
Elliot Daly is also absent, because he has had an operation on a long-standing stress fracture that Jones believes will keep him out until mid-December.
A number of senior players are back after the Lions and a period of rest, however. Veterans Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Jonny May and Ben Youngs are all selected.
Notably, Sam Simmonds – a Lion this summer – receives his first England call-up since 2018. Lynagh, the 20-year-old son of Wallabies legend Michael, has burst onto the scene this year on Harlequins’ march to the Premiership title, and scored two tries in the opening game of the defence at Newcastle on Sunday.
His selection is an important one as his parentage means he is eligible for both Italy and Australia, who would no doubt have come calling before long.
“He’s had a string of solid performances now,” said Jones. “He’s got good acceleration, good power, he finds the line. He’s got to find the ball a bit more, we chatted about that yesterday. He’s got youth, that enthusiasm to improve. Based on his performances for Harlequins, he deserves to be looked at, so we will look at him.”
Jones handed out 16 new caps in the summer Tests, and nine of those players are selected, including Marcus Smith, Alex Dombrandt and the Leicester full-back Freddie Steward.
But he has found space for eight further uncapped players. Along with Lynagh, there are two other Harlequins, in flanker Jack Kenningham and hooker Sam Riley.
The Sale duo Bevan Rodd and Raffi Quirke are intriguing selections in that group, too. As well as blending new players, the camp will be Jones’s first opportunity to work with a refreshed coaching group, including Richard Cockerill, Martin Gleeson and Anthony Seibold.
England’s 45-man training squad
Forwards: J Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), C Chick (Newcastle Falcons), L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), T Curry (Sale Sharks), T Davison (Newcastle Falcons), A Dombrandt (Harlequins), C Ewels (Bath Rugby), E Genge (Leicester Tigers), J Heyes (Leicester Tigers), J Hill (Exeter Chiefs), T Hill (Worcester Warriors), M Itoje (Saracens), J Kenningham (Harlequins), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), L Ludlam (Northampton Saints), L Ludlow (Gloucester Rugby), J Marler (Harlequins), G Martin (Leicester Tigers), B Obano (Bath Rugby), G Oghre (Wasps), S Riley (Harlequins), B Rodd (Sale Sharks), S Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), K Sinckler (Bristol Bears), W Stuart (Bath Rugby), S Underhill (Bath Rugby).
Backs: M Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby), O Farrell (Saracens), G Furbank (Northampton Saints), O Lawrence (Worcester Warriors), L Lynagh (Harlequins), M Malins (Saracens), J Marchant (Harlequins), J May (Gloucester Rugby), R Quirke (Sale Sharks), A Radwan (Newcastle Falcons), H Randall (Bristol Bears), D Robson (Wasps), H Slade (Exeter Chiefs), O Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), M Smith (Harlequins), F Steward (Leicester Tigers), M Tuilagi (Sale Sharks), A Watson (Bath Rugby), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).