England make changes in 45-man training squad

August 3, 2016

With the rugby season approaching, many fans will be looking forward to the Old Mutual International Series at Twickenham in the autumn, not least after England's Six Nations Grand Slam and 3-0 whitewash of Australia.

The first indication of what the England squad for those matches in November and December will look like has been provided by head coach Eddie Jones, who has named a 45-man pre-season training squad. They will meet at the Lensbury Hotel this weekend (August 6th-8th).

Among the most notable new names is Nathan Hughes of Wasps. Born in Fiji, he completed a residential qualification this summer and Jones is keen to have him on board for the squad meetup. Also in for the first time is Mike Williams from Leicester Tigers, while three uncapped players who have trained with the senior squad - Josh Beaumont of Sale Sharks, Charlie Ewels of Bath Rugby and Dan Robson of Wasps - have joined the camp. The other new additions are Joe Marchant from Harlequins and Will Evans of Leicester Tigers, who were in England's victorious World Rugby U20 championship winning side.

Tom Youngs is also back in the reckoning, but Luther Burrell, Chris Ashton and Danny Cipriani have all been left out.

Commenting on the camp, Jones said: "We'll use this time to reset and review each player’s goals so they’re clear on what is expected of them between now and when we meet up again in October. It also gives us an opportunity to meet and assess some new players and ensure they are familiar with the England setup.

"The long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby, so we’ve chosen a number of new faces to attend this camp on the form they have shown recently or the potential we see in them."

Fans can choose from four matches in the Old Mutual Series, with England playing against South Africa on November 12th, Fiji on November 19th, Argentina on November 26th and Australia on December 3rd.

The South Africa match will be an interesting one, with Jones noting that not one of the players in the training group has ever been part of a side that has beaten the Springboks.

None of the players involved with England up to now are in the Great Britain Olympic Rugby Sevens team for Rio, when the sport will feature in the games for the first time after being an established part of the Commonwealth Games.

Ewels is not the only Bath player having an exciting season. The club recently appointed Todd Blackadder as their new director of rugby, which prompted a few puns about the comedy show. However, with Tabai Matson becoming head coach rather than Baldrick, the only cunning plan in town has been the offer of new contracts to England pair Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson. Both have now signed and will be with the club until at least 2019.

Bath sacked Mike Ford after finishing ninth last season, a failing that led to them missing out on qualification for the European Champions' Cup.

By Keith Prowse

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