Eddie Jones has left experienced quartet Billy and Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and George Ford out of England's 45-man squad for this month's training camp.

Eight uncapped players – Mark Atkinson, Jack Kenningham, Louis Lynagh, Gabriel Oghre, Raffi Quirke, Sam Riley, Bevan Rodd and Ollie Sleightholme – have been selected.

The large group also contains nine players who made their debuts for England in their last batch of fixtures, including Jamie Blamire, Trevor Davison and Alex Dombrandt.

There are also recalls for Ben Youngs, Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marler, as well as England's 10-strong British and Irish Lions contingent.

Despite overlooking the Vunipola brothers, George and Ford, Jones insists the door will remain open for all four players.

"This is an exciting squad made up of experienced players and young guys who did well in the summer and have earned their place again," Jones said on Tuesday.

"We have left out some experienced players but we're really clear the door isn't closed to them, and we're looking forward to seeing them work hard to get back into contention."

England's training camp will run from Sunday 26 until Tuesday 28 and forms part of their preparations for the internationals against Tonga, Australia and South Africa in November.

 

England's 45-man training squad

Forwards: Jamie Blamire (Newcastle), Callum Chick (Newcastle), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), Tom Curry (Sale), Trevor Davison (Newcastle), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Ellis Genge (Leicester), Joe Heyes (Leicester), Jonny Hill (Exeter), Ted Hill (Worcester), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Jack Kenningham (Harlequins), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton), Lewis Ludlow (Gloucester), Joe Marler (Harlequins), George Martin (Leicester), Beno Obano (Bath), Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), Sam Riley (Harlequins), Bevan Rodd (Sale), Sam Simmonds (Exeter), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol), Will Stuart (Bath), Sam Underhill (Bath).

Backs: Mark Atkinson (Gloucester), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Furbank (Northampton), Ollie Lawrence (Worcester), Louis Lynagh (Harlequins), Max Malins (Saracens), Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Jonny May (Gloucester), Raffi Quirke (Sale), Adam Radwan (Newcastle), Harry Randall (Bristol), Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter), Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Freddie Steward (Leicester), Manu Tuilagi (Sale), Anthony Watson (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester).

Warren Gatland has selected Mako Vunipola to start for the British and Irish Lions in the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Head coach Gatland makes three changes to the side that beat the Springboks 22-17 last weekend, with Conor Murray and Chris Harris also coming into the starting XV to face the world champions on Saturday.

Vunipola replaces Rory Sutherland as he joins Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tadhg Furlong in the front row, while captain Alun Wyn Jones wins his 11th successive Lions Test cap as he partners Maro Itoje in an unchanged back row.

Murray comes in for Ali Price at scrum-half to partner Dan Biggar, while Harris is preferred to Elliot Daly to play alongside Robbie Henshaw in the centres.

The back three of Anthony Watson, Duhan van der Merwe and Stuart Hogg is unchanged, while Taulupe Faletau joins Sutherland, Price and Daly on the bench.

The Lions have only lost two series after winning the first Test, with the most recent occasion coming against Australia in 2001.

"As always, selection was incredibly tough," Gatland said. "However, we've made the changes we think are the right calls for the weekend's game.

"We feel we can go up another level from where we were in the first Test and I would expect us to improve.

"It's the biggest game on the Tour and we have to embrace the expectation that comes with it. As players and coaches, these are the games you want to be involved in. 

"We’re relishing the opportunity to face the Springboks again on Saturday and potentially seal a series win."


British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Taulupe Faletau, Ali Price, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly.

British and Irish Lions star Mako Vunipola and defence coach Steve Tandy have jumped to the tourists' defence after Rassie Erasmus took to social media to criticise their conduct in the first Test against South Africa on Saturday.

The Springboks' director of rugby posted and interacted with multiple posts on Twitter in the aftermath of the 22-17 defeat in Cape Town as he dissected what he thought to be a poor refereeing performance and an ill-disciplined outing from Warren Gatland's men.

The latest clip posted by Erasmus involved Ali Price's initial tackle on Cheslin Kolbe near the touchline before Vunipola lifts the South Africa winger off the turf – an act Erasmus cited as "reckless and dangerous".

The 2019 World Cup-winning coach added: "Cheslin is obviously played in the air and clearly not direct into touch!! More importantly for youngsters watching this clip!!!! Please never move or touch an injured player on the ground."

Vunipola, in contrast, insisted he was trying to inject energy by regaining the ball as the Lions looked to get back into proceedings, while the prop also offered Kolbe his apologies should he be injured.

"I remember just trying to get the ball," the Lions forward said. "I saw he had gone down and it was done in the heat of the moment. He seemed alright. He played on for the rest of the match.

"I guess if he was really hurt, it was a bit reckless. But I felt the collision wasn't that bad. We were behind at the time and we wanted some tempo. If I did hurt him, I apologise."

This is not the first time that Erasmus' social media posts have caused both controversy and confusion.

A day prior to the Vunipola accusation, Erasmus retweeted a post from an anonymous user which branded some of the match officials' calls as "questionable" against the reigning world champions.

Erasmus added to the highlights package of the officials' apparent mistakes: "Thanks. This is rugby - sometimes calls go for you and other times they don't."

Lions defence coach Tandy, who admitted his lack of social media literacy, responded by offering the match officials praise and insisted the tourists would lodge any complaints through the relevant governing bodies.

"Being a bit of a dinosaur myself and not being on Twitter and things, I'm hearing lots of hearsay," Tandy commented. "We thought the officials did a really good job at the weekend and if there's anything we need to bring up we'll go through the appropriate channels.

"Every team can go through micro details and analyse it. We do it ourselves, but it is then going through the appropriate channels, raising the ones that are relevant and not making it about every small detail, just making sure every one of the major ones is correct.

"It’s a tough job and I know everyone moans around certain decisions. There’s always frustration, and we get it as coaches. But if you can keep that, because it is a tough job out there for the officials.

"If we can keep to the proper channels, I think that is probably the best way around that because it’s a tough job for the players, the coaches, and it’s definitely tough for the referees too."

The Lions, who have now won the opening Test in four of their last seven tours, return to action on Saturday as they look to secure an unassailable lead in the three-Test series.

Rassie Erasmus lit the blue touch paper by accusing the British and Irish Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play in the first Test against South Africa.

The Lions fought back in the second half at Cape Town Stadium to beat the Springboks 22-17 on Saturday in an attritional contest to open the three-match series.

Erasmus posted a clip on Twitter on Monday showing Ali Price tackling Cheslin Kolbe close to the touchline late on, before Mako Vunipola picked the wing up off the floor.

South Africa's director of rugby wrote on his verified account: "Cheslin is obviously played in the air and clearly not in touch!

"More importantly for youngsters watching this clip, please never move or touch an injured player on the ground, it's reckless and dangerous.

"Leave this to the [medics]."

Erasmus had also been busy on social media on Sunday, retweeting clips from a user highlighting "questionable calls" by officials.

He wrote when retweeting one of the clips: "Thanks. This is rugby - sometimes calls go for you and other times they don't."

South Africa and the Lions lock horns again in the second Test at the same venue on Saturday.

England head coach Eddie Jones has named a new-look front row and recalled George Ford for the Six Nations game against Italy on Saturday.

The reigning champions went down 11-6 to Scotland on the opening weekend of the 2021 tournament, their first defeat to their Calcutta Cup rivals at Twickenham in 38 years. 

As he looks for a response following that setback, Jones has selected Ford at fly-half in his starting XV, meaning captain Owen Farrell switches to inside centre for the clash with the Azzurri. 

In the pack, the fit-again Mako Vunipola comes in to play opposite fellow prop Kyle Sinckler, while Luke Cowan-Dickie gets the nod at hooker ahead of Jamie George, who is on the bench. 

Courtney Lawes also gets a start at flanker, joining Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola in the back row.  

Ollie Lawrence – who was handed his first Six Nations start against Scotland – is absent from the 23-man squad entirely, with Henry Slade picked to play next to Farrell in midfield.  

"As always, we've picked what we think is our strongest 23 to try and win the game," Jones said.

"We're pleased to have Mako and Kyle back into the team and we've made some changes to our starting XV, but our finishers are just as important to our gameplan. We look at the whole 80 minutes.  

"We've trained very well this week, I've been very pleased with the players' attitudes and work-rate. We're hoping to put on a good performance on Saturday and kick on with our Six Nations campaign." 


England team to face Italy at Twickenham:

Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Jamie George, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Jack Willi, Dan Robson, Max Malins.

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