Saturday 18 August 2018

Eddie Jones names eight uncapped players in England's Six Nations squad

Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones

Duncan Bech

England have named eight uncapped players in a 35-man squad selected to prepare for the NatWest 6 Nations opener against Italy on February 4.

A succession of injuries and suspensions - including to star players Billy Vunipola, Elliot Daly and Nathan Hughes - have forced Eddie Jones to bring in a host of new faces.

Saracens wing Nathan Earle, Northampton centre Harry Mallinder and Harlequins full-back Marcus Smith are the rookie backs included.

Exeter prop Alec Hepburn, Harlequins prop Lewis Boyce, Newcastle flanker Gary Graham, Bath back row Zach Mercer and Bath hooker Tom Dunn make up the new faces in the forwards.

Mercer is no longer included as an apprentice in recognition of the injuries at number eight to Vunipola and Hughes, leaving Smith as the only player featuring in that capacity.

The training squad, which is absent of big-name omissions other than those who are unavailable, will travel to Portugal on Sunday to begin a week-long camp as build up to the trip to Rome.

I've selected the strongest available squad to prepare for our opening match against Italy," said Jones, who on Wednesday signed a contract extension until 2021.

"It's important we start the tournament well and we will spend the next two weeks training smart and really fine-tuning our gameplan for the Italy match next month.

"I'm expecting a really positive training camp in Portugal and while we have a few players unavailable through injury or suspension, it has provided opportunity for others who will be desperate to be involved in the Italy game."

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