England head coach Eddie Jones has included Chris Ashton in a 44-man pre-season training squad that will convene in Teddington for a three-day camp.
The new Sale Sharks signing is the standout veteran addition to the squad which features emerging prospects like Leicester’s Jordan Olowofela, Harlequins’ Gabriel Ibitoye and Saracens Joel Kpoku.
For Ashton, it will be his first involvement with England since the 2015 Rugby World Cup following a succession of bans and a move abroad to the Top 14 to join Toulon.
His form for Toulon as well as starring for the Barbarians against England with a hat-trick has seen Eddie Jones happy to take a look at the wing for the first time as England head coach.
Jones commented of 31-year-old’s call-up: “Chris is an exceptional player, I think we have seen that from his form at Saracens. And then at Toulon he has played exceedingly well.
“He’s come back to England because he wants to play for England so he has got the right desire and the right attitude. It will be good to work with him.”
Captain Dylan Hartley’s lengthy time out with concussion appears to have met its end as he returns to full fitness having not played a match since the match against Ireland in this year’s Six Nations.
Of the players who toured South Africa in June, Wasps flanker Brad Shields, Sale wing Denny Solomona and Saracens number 8 Billy Vunipola will not be present in Teddington.
Vunipola’s fellow Saracens back row Michael Rhodes does make the cut, however, and qualifies to wear the Red Rose after passing eligibility regulations in July.
Signed by Saracens from the Stormers in 2015, Rhodes was described as the ‘best blindside in the country’ by Sarries coach Alex Sanderson in an interview with TRP ahead of the Six Nations.
Backs: Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Cipriani (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Nathan Earle (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Piers Francis (Northampton Saints), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Spencer (Saracens), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Northampton Saints), Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), Paul Hill (Northampton Saints), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Maro Itoje (Saracens)
Joel Kpoku (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Michael Rhodes (Saracens), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors), Will Spencer (Leicester Tigers), Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons).
Not considered for selection due to injury/ fitness/ other: Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
George Kruis (Saracens), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Brad Shields (Wasps), Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens).
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