The hype behind England’s journey to the Rugby World Cup is building after Joe Marler was included in the 35-man training squad.
The Harlequins loosehead prop has come out of international retirement to make himself available for World Cup selection.
England head coach Eddie Jones revealed the two had chatted in the week that preceded the Barbarians’ visit to Twickenham last month, after an injury to Mako Vunipola raised concerns at the loosehead position.
“I saw Joe during the Barbarians’ week and he indicated that he had a desire to come back,” Jones said.
“We have since had a couple of chats and we have given him the opportunity to do that. Now it is up to him to show us what he has got.”
As Marler battles it out to impress along with Exeter Chiefs prop Ben Moon and Leicester’s Ellis Genge, Mako Vunipola is one of three players who will be monitored by England medical staff; the others being George Kruis and Jack Nowell, who are both dealing with ankle injuries.
Danny Cipriani retains his place in the final training squad list having attended Jones’ second camp at Pennyhill Park last week.
The Premiership Player of the Year had not been involved with England prior to that point having been arrested in Jersey last summer.
Cipriani’s half-back partner at Gloucester, Willi Heinz, is one of four uncapped players included in the squad.
The former Crusaders scrum-half qualifies for the Red Rose through his grandmother and forms a three-man department along with Ben Youngs and Ben Spencer, meaning Danny Care will not be going to the World Cup.
Care’s absence as an experienced member of the England team is shared by Harlequins teammates Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown, who have all previously played senior roles during Jones’ tenure as head coach.
In addition to Heinz, Jones’ shift in selection has also seen Bath wing Ruaridh McConnochie and Northampton Saints flanker Lewis Ludlam rewarded for their Premiership form, while Jack Singleton has been chosen as potential competition to Jamie George.
“World Cup selection is a four-year process,” Jones added. “We have looked at the squad carefully, tried to build up a squad that has enough experience, attitude and energy to be winners and I think we have that.
“In the process, we have left out some players who can feel unlucky. For those guys who have missed out, the door is never closed but they have just got to be ready, as you never know when the opportunity comes.”
Forwards: Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, Ben Moon, Brad Shields, Kyle Sinckler, Jack Singleton, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson
Backs: Danny Cipriani, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Piers Francis, Willi Heinz, Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May, Ruaridh McConnochie, Henry Slade, Ben Spencer, Ben Te’o, Manu Tuilagi, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs
In camp for rehabilitation: George Kruis, Jack Nowell, Mako Vunipola
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