Eddie Jones faces a number of selection dilemmas ahead of naming his 33-man England squad that will assemble for a training camp in Brighton next week.
The knee injury sustained by Billy Vunipola during England’s 27-14 win over Argentina will see the number eight miss most, if not all, of the Six Nations Championship. While doubts also surround the availability of his brother Mako, who suffered a knee ligament injury during Saracens’ 24-10 European Rugby Champions Cup win over the Sale Sharks.
Jones though will have a number of returning players such as James Haskell at his disposal, but it is on the wing where the England coach has a difficult selection decision to make.
With Anthony Watson set to make his return for Bath against the Exeter Chiefs on New Year’s Eve, a game that is also likely to feature Jack Nowell, the England coach maybe tempted to immediately include the duo in his training squad.
This would mean that one or possibly two of Jonny May, Semesa Rokoduguni and Marland Yarde could miss out on selection. Indeed the emergence of Elliot Daly as a versatile back line option during the autumn series further threatens their positions within the England squad.
Elsewhere, Jones will be boosted by the return of Maro Itoje, while according to Talk Sport, Dylan Hartley is expected to retain the captaincy.
Jones will name a 33-man training squad at lunch time on Saturday, and a wider 45-man elite player squad as required by the agreement between the RFU and Aviva Premiership clubs.
However the 33-man selection will give the clearest indication as to Jones’ thinking ahead of the Six Nations.
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Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena