Six Nations 2022: England head coach Eddie Jones calls up six uncapped players for training week
Eddie Jones has named six uncapped players in his squad for England’s five-day training camp next week ahead of the Six Nations.
Orlando Bailey, Alfie Barbeary, Ollie Chessum, Tommy Freeman, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Luke Northmore have all been called into the 36-man squad, with Owen Farrell set to captain the team despite having not played since being injured in the Autumn Nations Series.
However, there is no recall for George Ford in spite of his impressive form for Leicester Tigers in the Gallagher Premiership since being dropped from Jones’ squad ahead of last autumn’s matches against Tonga, Australia and South Africa.
“Selecting this squad has been a difficult task,” Jones said. “We’ve got plenty of good young players coming through and some of our more experienced are rediscovering their best form.
“We think this 36 for the first training week reflects a good balance of that experience and up-and-coming talent.”
Ford’s continued exclusion comes with the 20-year-old Bath fly-half Bailey being called up as another option at No 10 along with Marcus Smith, who impressed for England as they went through their three autumn Tests unbeaten. Farrell, meanwhile, has alternated between that role and inside centre during Jones’ tenure.
Leicester Tigers forward Chessum, 21, brings versatility in being able to play at lock or in the back row, while Barbeary, who was named player of the match for his blockbusting performance in Wasps’ win over Heineken Champions Cup holders Toulouse last Saturday, does likewise as he is able to operate either in the back row or at hooker.
Elsewhere, Hassell-Collins gets the call after scoring seven tries in all competitions on the wing for London Irish so far this season, centre Northmore continues his impressive rise since joining Harlequins from Cardiff Met University three years ago and Northampton Saints back Freeman returns after initially being involved ahead of the Autumn Nations Series.
At the other end of the scale, Ben Youngs’ continued presence means the scrum-half could overtake Jason Leonard’s all-time England appearance record of 114 caps during the tournament and Kyle Sinckler is closing in on his 50th international cap.
Among the more eye-catching names to miss out is Sam Underhill, with the flanker having consistently been a member of Jones’ squad up from the 2019 Rugby World Cup up to this point.
The Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, remain out of the picture as well, while Elliot Daly is not recalled either after missing the Autumn Nations Series due to injury. Exeter Chiefs winger Jack Nowell is, however, back in the squad after overcoming injury problems which have affected him in recent years.
In total, Jones had been able to name an expanded 36-man squad for the training week in Brighton, which starts on Monday, following a deal agreed with Gallagher Premiership clubs which allows greater flexibility on player release during the Six Nations due to Covid-19.
The Australian was limited to 28 players in his squad for last year’s tournament, in which England finished a disappointing fifth, and the size of the squad for the 2022 campaign will be evaluated on a week-by-week basis.
Jones has been able to select players who are not vaccinated against Covid-19, although any unvaccinated members of the squad are unlikely to be available for the matches away to Italy and France on February 13 and March 19 respectively due to restrictions in place in those countries.
For now, however, the focus is on getting the squad prepared for the Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland at Murrayfield in the opening match of this year’s Six Nations on Saturday, February 5.
“In Brighton we’ll focus on getting the fundamentals of our game in play right and developing the cohesion of the team,” Jones said.
“The Six Nations is going to be the most competitive we’ve ever seen. All the countries performed well in the autumn, so we need to be at our best and improve with every game.”
Forwards: Alfie Barbeary (Wasps), Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons), Ollie Chessum, (Leicester Tigers), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears), Will Stuart (Bath Rugby).
Backs: Mark Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby), Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints), George Furbank (Northampton Saints), Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish), Max Malins (Saracens), Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Luke Northmore (Harlequins), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Raffi Quirke (Sale Sharks), Harry Randall (Bristol Bears), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).