Rugby Thoughts – England’s Training Squad

Eddie Jones has picked his pre-season training squad and we can expect that these players will make up the majority of the final EPS (Elite Player Squad) when it’s selected later in the year. I’ll have a look at the ins and outs from the squad that toured Australia.

After a 3-0 winning series in Australia there is going to be continuity of selection with the changes being mainly extra players.

I have listed the players by position listing those that are included in the tour to Australia with the new players in italics.


In: Dan Cole, Paul Hill, Matt Mullan, Mako Vunipola, Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Marler

Out: None

The retention of all the players from the Australia tour is no surprise and neither is the recall of Joe Marler. The only thing I would say here is that maybe Brookes is unlucky and maybe he’s not an Eddie Jones type player.


In: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jamie George, Dylan Hartley, Tom Youngs

Out: Tommy Taylor (selected as cover for the Wales game)

It looked like Tom Youngs was behind Tommy Taylor at the end of last season. Maybe this is Eddie wanting to get a closer look at Youngs or Taylor didn’t perform when called into camp earlier in the year. The 3 that went on tour are kept so it’s tinkering with the edge of the squad.


In: George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Charlie Ewels, Mike Williams

Out: Dave Attwood (selected as cover for the Wales game)

The 4 incumbents are here and as they are some of the best locks in the world that’s not surprise. Attwood has given way to 2 youngsters who are clearly being selected with an eye to the future. This is Eddie having a look at a couple of long-term prospects to see what they are about.


In: Jack Clifford, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola, Teimana Harrison, Josh Beaumont, Will Evans, Nathan Hughes

Out: Matt Kvesic (selected as cover for the Wales game)

The back row is always the area of most controversy and sees the most change in the pack with 3 new faces. Beaumont comes back into the squad after missing out on the tour to Australia. It’s not surprise to see Hughes called up as soon as he was available due to residency. Will Evans is another look to the future after a good U20s World Championship.

Kvesic and Dave Ewers are the 2 players that are missing here that people will think have been unlucky. But the competition is tough especially how well Haskell and Robshaw played in Australia. The one surprise is that Harrison survived after being pulled from the pitch early in that last test. I thought that might be that last time we saw him in an England shirt.


In: Danny Care, Ben Youngs, Dan Robson, Joe Simpson

Out: None

The 2 scrum halves from Wasps have been added to the training squad. These are 2 players that people have been calling to be selected and it shouldn’t be surprising that Eddie is having a look at his other options should there be an injury.


In: Owen Farrell, George Ford

Out: Ollie Devoto (selected as cover for the Wales game)

Maybe slightly surprising that someone hasn’t been called in so that Eddie can look at his injury options like he has with the scrum halves. That’s probably because Slade is the backup option and I have him listed in the centres.


In: Elliot Daly, Manu Tuilagi, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Joe Marchant

Out: Luther Burrell

Burrell is the only player that went on tour that hasn’t been retained. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as he was dragged off early in the 1st test and didn’t reappear for the rest of the series. Marchant is another young player that Eddie has called up with an eye to the future. He had a good U20’s World Championship and will be looking to emulate Itoje in being fast tracked into the side.

For me this is the most interesting position as I’m not sure that Farrell is the long term 12 and that he might still move inside to 10.

Back threes

In: Mike Brown, Alex Goode, Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson, Marland Yarde, Jonny May, Semesa Rokoduguni, Mike Haley

Out: None

May comes back from injury and Rokoduguni also joins after playing well last season. Again not real surprises here with Ashton being the only name mentioned as to having missed out. As I said when reviewing the Australia touring side I think he is a good player but needs a certain style of play which I don’t think is England’s.

Edit: Mike Haley is certainly a surprise, so much so that I missed him from the original piece. Another young player who’s become an ever present in the Sale side showing that Eddie will pick form “unfashionable” clubs.


As expected there is continuity of selection with Burrell being the only player that toured to be excluded. He was always an injury replacement for Tuilagi and so probably the most vulnerable all along. However I think when he got pulled early in the 1st test many thought it might be the last time we would see him in an England shirt.

It’s interesting that all the players called up as extra cover for the pre-tour Wales test have been excluded. I think that most of them have a chance to work their way back into the squad and maybe Eddie will be rotating the fringe players to help keep the squad fresh and on their toes.

Again there is the addition of youth and it must be an exciting time to be coming through the U20’s as they can see the next step is accessible if you’re good enough.

Players Not Included

I have done a YouTube video where I look at 5 players how missed out on selection.

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