Eddie Jones has named three squads in the past couple of days: his squad to tour Australia, his Saxons squad to head to South Africa and finally his extended squad to take on Wales in the one-off Test this coming Sunday.
Yet, there are still a number of players who will count themselves very unlucky to not be involved. We put together a team made up of the best players who won’t be involved with England this summer.
1) Alex Waller
Northampton’s young stalwart at loosehead has made over 150 appearances for his club, but he has been shunned in favour of tyro Ellis Genge, Mako Vunipola and Matt Mullan. With Joe Marler taking a break from international rugby for the summer, Waller would surely have been hoping for some kind of call-up.
2) Harry Thacker
One of the ‘Land Rover Discovery of the Season’ Award nominees and a real find for Leicester’s ailing front row after a serious injury to first-choice hooker Tom Youngs, Thacker can probably feel aggrieved that he does not even make the Saxons tour to South Africa. He lost out to Wasps-bound Tommy Taylor and Newcastle Falcons’ George McGuigan, although the latter was linked with a switch of allegiances to Ireland – whom he also currently qualifies for.
3) Davey Wilson
Jones seems to have decided to skip over some experienced heads in favour of bringing through some greener players, such as Harlequins’ Kyle Sinckler and Northampton’s Paul Hill. Kieran Brookes has been demoted to the Saxons and Wasps’ Jake Cooper-Woolley has been handed his chance, meaning Wilson misses out and can probably start to believe his international career is over.
4) Graham Kitchener
Leicester’s Kitchener has been ignored in favour of Exeter’s Donovan Armand and Mitch Lees, and Saints’ James Craig for the Saxons, meaning the 26 year old has some serious work to do to get himself back into the England head coach’s thoughts.
5) Geoff Parling
Once considered pivotal to England’s pack given his understanding with Tom Youngs at the lineout, Parling has been ruthlessly axed since Jones took over from former coach Lancaster. He is nowhere to be seen in any of the squads, and it is likely that his international career is also over.
6) Tom Wood
A favourite of the Lancaster era, Wood was even a favourite to take over the captaincy from Robshaw before the 2015 World Cup. However, with Jones preferring former captain Chris Robshaw as his blindside and is looking at a number of different options in his Saxons squad, it seems Wood is surplus to requirements and may never don the red rose again. Wood has decided to use the summer to undergo a neck operation, and we wish him all the best with his recovery.
7) Will Fraser/Luke Wallace
Both Will Fraser and Luke Wallace are absent from all three squads, despite the former being an integral part of Saracens’ march to a first Champions Cup win. Similarly, Wallace has put in some impressive performances for Harlequins over the past few seasons. Instead, Northampton’s Teimana Harrison has leapfrogged both into pole position and is now James Haskell’s main challenger. In the Saxons, Gloucester’s Matt Kvesic and Wasps’ Sam Jones are vying for the openside berth against South Africa.
This is also overlooking Toulon’s Steffon Armitage, still exiled due to the RFU’s policy on not selecting overseas-based players.
8) Ben Morgan/Thomas Waldrom
Thomas Waldrom is the Premiership’s leading try scorer, but he has been constantly ignored by Eddie Jones and this appears likely to continue. Likewise, Gloucester’s Ben Morgan has not had a look-in since Lancaster was axed. Both will need to take their games up a gear if they are to get past the likes of Dave Ewers, James Chisholm, Jack Clifford and Billy Vunipola.
9) Will Chudley
One of the most consistent performers during Exeter’s march to their first Premiership final, Chudley has been looked over in favour of Dan Robson and Micky Young in the Saxons. Moreover, Jones has taken the decision to go with only two scrum-halves for the Australia tour, with regulars Danny Care and Ben Youngs fighting for the number nine jersey.
10) Freddie Burns
Although Burns suffered a loss of form over the past season, he has come back roaring into contention for an England jersey this year, so he will be disappointed to not even get a chance for the Saxons. Instead, Danny Cipriani is given the best chance to prove he should be in the main England squad.
11) Chris Ashton
Ashton’s absence caused the most consternation amongst fans and pundits after he scored a plethora of tries for Saracens in recent games, and with Jones initially selecting him for his Six Nations squad it seemed likely he would be brought back in. However, it is a further insult to Ashton that he is not included in the Saxons squad, meaning at 29 his England career could well be over in favour of the likes of Marland Yarde, Christian Wade, Semesa Rokoduguni and Alex Lewington.
12) Kyle Eastmond
Eastmond was only ever given limited chances by Stuart Lancaster’s coaching set-up, but it appears Bath’s poor season has cost him a place in the Saxons and he has been troubled with niggling injuries in recent times, with Ollie Devoto (included in the second tier squad) making the most of his opportunities in Eastmond’s absence.
13) Brad Barritt
Arguably the first name on the team sheet for Lancaster and his coaches, Brad Barritt has been ostracized since Jones became head coach. Even though Barritt has been at the heart of everything good about Saracens this season, it is possible he has played his last game for his country.
14) Matt Banahan
There are a number of other contenders who could have been put here, including James Short at Exeter, but Banahan has put in some tidy performances for a struggling Bath team this season. However, wing is a highly-competitive spot for England and it is no real surprise the likes of Lewington, Wade and Rokoduguni have taken Saxons spots over him.
15) Chris Pennell
Stuart Lancaster saw a lot of promise in Worcester’s fullback, and took him on tour to New Zealand despite Pennell still being based at a Championship club at the time. However, Eddie Jones has appeared to have moved on and is looking at Sale’s Mike Haley as a Saxons option.
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