ENGLAND HEAD COACH Eddie Jones today unveiled a 29-man pre-World Cup training squad with no place for double Six Nations-winning captain Dylan Hartley.
Wasps’ Nathan Hughes, former captain Chris Robshaw and fellow Harlequin Danny Care are notable, though not surprising, omissions.
With a protocol agreed to give players five weeks off from the end of the season, it was expected that Jones’ initial squad would not feature players from the four Premiership semi-finalists – Saracens, Exeter, Gloucester and Northampton Saints.
However, in today’s group Jones included Saints flanker Lewis Ludlam and Gloucester prop Val Rapava Ruskin. Their inclusion adds further weight to reports the Australian is will continue on without Northampton hooker Hartley, who has not played since December due to a knee injury, when the squad is completed in the coming weeks.
Along with Ludlam and Rapava Ruskin, Bath wing Ruaridh McConnochie and Harlequins back row Alex Dombrandt will also sample their first England senior camp.
Exeter Chiefs wing Jack Nowell is set to miss the World Cup warm-ups (which includes a Twickenham Test against Ireland on 24 August) after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury sustained in the Premiership final. However, he is holding onto hope of featuring in Japan.
The Times yesterday reported that Joe Marler is set to row back on his international retirement and push for a spot in Japan. The Harlequins loosehead is included in England’s Elite Player Squad and could join England five weeks after playing against them as a Barbarian.
Saracens duo Mako Vunipola and George Kruis will also spend next week in Pennyhill Park for injury treatment.