England bring in eight rookies for Italy opener

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:29
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SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: England head coach Eddie Jones has selected eight uncapped players in his 35-man squad ahead of their first match of the Six Nations against Italy in Rome.

Following this weekend's club fixtures, the 35 players will travel to Portugal for a week-long training camp before reconvening on January 29 at Pennyhill Park ahead of the tournament opener.

Harlequins prop Lewis Boyce is called up for the first time following club teammate Joe Marler receiving a six-week suspension last week. The 2016 World Rugby Under-20 Championship winner is in his first season at the west London club having signed from Yorkshire Carnegie.

Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) is retained having been involved in the England setup for the first time earlier this month in Brighton and Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs) recieves his first call up into the senior squad.

Outside backs Nathan Earle (Saracens) and Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints) are also named. Both travelled on England's tour of Argentina in June but were not capped.

"I have selected the strongest available squad to prepare for our opening match against Italy," said Jones. "It is important we start the tournament well and we will spend the next two weeks training smart and really fine-tuning our game plan for the Italy match next month.

“I am expecting a really positive training camp in Portugal and while we have a few players unavailable through injury or suspension, it has provided opportunity for others who will be desperate to be involved in the Italy game."

England squad:

Backs: Mike Brown, Nathan Earle, Harry Mallinder, Jonny May, Denny Solomona, Anthony Watson, Danny Care, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Alex Lozowski, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te'o, Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs. 

Forwards: Gary Graham, Nick Isiekwe, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury, Zach Mercer, Chris Robshaw, Sam Simmonds, Sam Underhill, Lewis Boyce, Dan Cole, Tom Dunn, Jamie George, Dylan Hartley, Alec Hepburn, Kyle Sinckler, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams 

Players unavailable: Tom Curry, Elliot Daly, Charlie Ewels, Piers Francis, Ellis Genge, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes, Joe Marler, Matt Mullan, Beno Obano, Semesa Rokoduguni, Will Spencer, Billy Vunipola. 

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