Eddie Jones names nine uncapped players in England squad but no room for Joe or Sam Simmonds

Daniel Schofield
·12-min read
Eddie Jones, pictured here mastering the frisbee, names his squad on Monday - PA
Eddie Jones, pictured here mastering the frisbee, names his squad on Monday - PA

England head coach Eddie Jones has included nine uncapped players in his autumn squad but has found no room for European player of the year Sam Simmonds or Exeter’s double winning captain Joe Simmonds. 

With wing Jack Nowell and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie out through injury, Jones has included just three players from Exeter in centre Henry Slade, tighthead Harry Williams and uncapped lock Jonny Hill.

The other uncapped players in a 36-man squad include Worcester centre Ollie Lawrence, Bristol full back Max Malins, Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley, Wasps fly half Jacob Umaga, Bath hooker Tom Dunn and prop Beno Obano, Northampton lock David Ribbans and Wasps flanker Jack Willis as reported by Telegraph Sport on Monday.

Jones has nine players unavailable to injury with Ali Crossdale, Courtney Lawes, Manu Tuilagi and Mark Wilson, while Elliot Daly, Joe Marler and George Ford will join the camp for reconditioning but they are not expected to play any part in England’s Six Nations finale against Italy on Saturday. The absence of Ford is a particular blow. 

England are likely to need a handsome bonus-point victory to stand a chance of winning a third title under Jones’ reign. Their preparations were significantly affected by the cancellation of Sunday’s match against the Barbarians after several players left the famous club’s bio-secure bubble.

“We have to put our best foot forward if we want to win the Six Nations,” Jones said. “We need to set the tone of the game and we want to put a smile on fans’ faces, a lot of people are enduring hardships and we are grateful for the opportunity to represent England in these difficult times.

“We were obviously disappointed with the postponement of the Barbarians game but we moved to plan B, had a highly competitive training session instead of the match and now we are fully focused on the Italy game and the goal of winning the Six Nations.

“It was a tough squad to pick and I know there are a number of disappointed players that have just missed out. We’ve got a good balance between experience and inexperience. With nine players out injured, it does create some opportunities for the younger guys to show what they can do. We’re very happy with what we’ve seen in the mini-camps and the Barbarians training week, it’s been really competitive.”

Ollie Lawrence of England looks on during an England rugby training session at Twickenham - GETTY IMAGES
Ollie Lawrence of England looks on during an England rugby training session at Twickenham - GETTY IMAGES

Among those to return to England squad after injury lay-offs are Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga, Wasps scrum half Dan Robson and Willis, the outstanding openside flanker who was crowned both the Premiership and Rugby Players’ Association’s player of the year award. He still faces a formidable task to force his way into the team past Sam Underhill and Tom Curry who were so impressive together at last year’s World Cup. 

However, Jones will need to put his faith in youth elsewhere. The absence of Ford and Tuilagi will entail a significant shuffling of the midfield against Italy. Umaga and captain Owen Farrell are the only fly halves in the squad while all the centres in the squad – Lawrence, Slade, Jonathan Joseph and Joe Marchant – predominantly play at outside centre.

That could entail either Umaga starting at fly half with Farrell shifting to 12 or Jones attempting to move powerhouse Ollie Lawerence to inside centre as he previously did with Manu Tuilagi. 

Following the match against Italy, England will begin preparations for the Autumn Nations Cup in which they face Georgia, Wales and Ireland in Group A. 

Backs

Joe Cokanasiga (Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Furbank (Northampton), Willi Heinz (Gloucester), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Ollie Lawrence (Worcester)*, Max Malins (Bristol)*, Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Jonny May (Gloucester), Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter), Ollie Thorley (Gloucester)*, Jacob Umaga (Wasps)*, Anthony Watson (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Forwards

Tom Curry (Sale), Tom Dunn (Bath)*, Ben Earl (Bristol), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Ellis Genge (Leicester), Jamie George (Saracens), Jonny Hill (Exeter)*, Ted Hill (Worcester), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton), Beno Obano (Bath)*, David Ribbans (Northampton)*, Jack Singleton (Gloucester), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol), Will Stuart (Bath), Sam Underhill (Bath), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter), Jack Willis (Wasps)*

*= uncapped

12:10 PM

More on David Ribbans

Who out of the uncapped contingent might be the player supporters are most unfamiliar with. Over two metres tall, the Northampton lock was born in Somerset West in the Western Cape in South Africa and made a handful of appearances for Western Province before joining Northampton in 2016. Turned 25 in August.

Northampton lock David Ribbans (left) during the England training session last week - PA
Northampton lock David Ribbans (left) during the England training session last week - PA

12:05 PM

Breaking: Wales to face England in Llanelli

The Welsh Rugby Union have just announced that Wales home fixture with England will be played behind closed doors at Parc y Scarlets, along with the rest of their autumn fixtures. The WRU had originally hoped to host matches in London if crowds were permitted to attend in England.

Here's the WRU CEO Steve Phillips:

It is no secret that more than three-quarters of the annual income which supports Welsh Rugby at all levels comes directly from our international game and specifically from hosting Wales matches in front of capacity crowds.

That is why we made contingency plans to play matches in London and why we have waited as long as possible before resigning ourselves to the prospect of playing ‘behind closed doors’ in Wales.

This news, however inevitable it may have become during recent days, is a financial set back, but it has not been unforeseen and measures have been and will be taken to mitigate for our losses.

Of course we understand there is a bigger picture at play and the health of the nation and its individuals, which include our supporters, players, administrators and the many volunteers in our game throughout the country, must come first.

12:01 PM

That's a long time with George around

12:01 PM

England's schedule for the next few weeks

Sat 31 Oct: Italy v England (4.45pm, Stadio Olimpico, Six Nations)

Sat 14 Nov: England v Georgia (3pm, Twickenham, Autumn Nations Cup)

Sat 21 Nov: England v Ireland (3pm, Twickenham, ANC)

Sat 28 Nov: Wales v England (4pm, Parc y Scarlets , ANC)

Sun 6 Dec: England v TBC (2pm, Twickenham, ANC Play-off Final)

11:58 AM

Lawrence to star at 13?

The Worcester back has shown plenty of promise, as Jake Goodwill writes here.

11:54 AM

Get excited

11:52 AM

England coaching update

Recently appointed skills coach Jason Ryles will join up with the team for the start of the Autumn Nations Cup, after finishing the season and winning the NRL Grand Final with Melbourne Storm, where he was assistant coach.

11:44 AM

Notable absentees

No Joe or Sam Simmonds, which is a bit mad given Joe has just captained Exeter to the double and Sam was named European Player of the Year.

Elliot Daly is injured as appears to be George Ford, meaning a potential debut for Jacob Umaga this weekend off the bench.

Alex Dombrandt dropping out a bit of a surprise. No space for Bath's Ben Spencer either.

Line from the RFU release:

Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ali Crossdale, Courtney Lawes, Jack Nowell, Manu Tuilagi and Mark Wilson are unavailable due to injury. Elliot Daly, George Ford and Joe Marler will join up with the squad for reconditioning.

The RFU have confirmed that none of the reconditioning trio - Daly, Ford, Marler - will be available to face Italy. 

11:42 AM

Players who have dropped out from the last camp

Ali Crossdale, Saracens
Fraser Dingwall, Northampton Saints
Piers Francis, Northampton Saints
Alex Mitchell, Northampton Saints
Alex Dombrandt, Harlequins
Joe Heyes, Leicester Tigers
Alex Moon, Northampton Saints
Mark Wilson, Newcastle Falcons

11:34 AM

Nine uncapped players

Lawrence, Malins, Thorley, Umaga, Dunn, Hill, Obano, Ribbans and Willis

11:30 AM

Squad announced

Backs

Joe Cokanasiga (Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Furbank (Northampton), Willi Heinz (Gloucester), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Ollie Lawrence (Worcester)*, Max Malins (Bristol)*, Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Jonny May (Gloucester), Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter), Ollie Thorley (Gloucester)*, Jacob Umaga (Wasps)*, Anthony Watson (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Forwards

Tom Curry (Sale), Tom Dunn (Bath)*, Ben Earl (Bristol), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Ellis Genge (Leicester), Jamie George (Saracens), Jonny Hill (Exeter)*, Ted Hill (Worcester), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton), Beno Obano (Bath)*, David Ribbans (Northampton)*, Jack Singleton (Gloucester), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol), Will Stuart (Bath), Sam Underhill (Bath), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter), Jack Willis (Wasps)*

*= uncapped

11:26 AM

A couple of uncapped players who might feature

Leicester prop Joe Heyes - afp
Leicester prop Joe Heyes - afp
Worcester Warriors centre Ollie Lawrence - REUTERS
Worcester Warriors centre Ollie Lawrence - REUTERS

11:22 AM

One player who won't be involved

Jack Nowell played through the pain in Exeter's Premiership final win over Wasps and will be out for a while, as Charlie Morgan reports.

Jack Nowell of Exeter Chiefs celebrates following his team's victory - GETTY IMAGES
Jack Nowell of Exeter Chiefs celebrates following his team's victory - GETTY IMAGES

11:18 AM

Success for England Women

Who won this year's Women's Six Nations title on Sunday following France's draw with Scotland with a round to spare, given England are six points clear at the top. That's their 16th title, and a Grand Slam is still possible ahead of facing Italy. Kate Rowan with the latest.

11:14 AM

As we've got a bit of time

Would highly recommend watching this on England's first couple of camps at the Lensbury. Very good insight.

11:11 AM

Is the agreement between the RFU and clubs over player release fair?

Tony Rowe, the Exeter Chiefs chairman, isn't so sure, as he explains to Charlie Morgan following his side's trophy double.

Being forced to release them for so many international games is not good. We don’t get compensated enough. The reality is that we bred these guys for ourselves, we didn’t breed them for England.

England can get too greedy. They are very quick to run the other way when we want money. At the moment we are desperate for money in the Premiership to stay alive. We are one of the wealthier clubs and we will see it through, but there are some clubs that are really struggling and we should be able to turn to the RFU for financial support because they turn to us when they want our players.

11:02 AM

Who's in?

Daniel Schofield reports that Wasps' outstanding back-row Jack Willis, who cleaned up the end-of-season awards in recent weeks, will be selected. That should not come as a shock - Willis has been in unreal form this season and was unlucky to end up on the losing side in Saturday's Gallagher Premiership final against Exeter.

Here's who else could make the group.

11:00 AM

Morning everyone

After a few mini camps and one aborted warm-up fixture against the Barbarians, Eddie Jones will this morning name his squad for England's final match of the Six Nations on Saturday against Italy and for the following four matches in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Jones, of course, had hoped to observe how some of his England players had progressed on Sunday against the Barbarians, before the game was called off following the invitational side's Covid-19 bubble breach.

That has left England with no preparation for their Six Nations finale against Italy, a game they go into with a strong chance of being able to win the title for the first time since 2017 despite trailing Ireland in the table currently by a point.

Here's what Jones had to say last week about the tackle technique of his captain Owen Farrell, who is short on game time.

"Owen's always working on his tackle technique," head coach Jones said.

"I went to the gym this (Tuesday) morning and I was walking through before we were going to catch up and he was there doing some extra work with (head of strength and conditioning) Jon Clarke.

"That's a constant work-on for not only Owen, but a lot of our players. The laws of the high tackle have become increasingly tighter, which is for the welfare of the players and all of our players are conscious of their responsibility.

"Owen and I have ongoing conversations. There's not a day where we don't talk, or text each other. And now he's in camp, it's face-to-face.

"He's aware of his responsibilities as England captain - he made a mistake in a game, we've moved on from that and now his job's to be the best England captain he can be. That's what he's striving to do."

Farrell has not played since picking up a five-game ban for a dangerous tackle following his red card against Wasps playing for Saracens. The Barbarians game, therefore, would have been ideal preparation. Yet here we are.