England Rugby World Cup squad announced
Ben Te'o has been dumped from England’s World Cup squad – a week after being involved in an altercation with a team mate.
The Lions star played 20 times for Eddie Jones in the run up to the tournament, establishing himself as a key member of the squad.
But his part in a fracas with Mike Brown during a team social at last week’s warm-weather camp in Italy appears to have cost him his place.
Piers Francis, who has made just two Test starts, takes the vacant midfield spot in Jones’ 31-man squad for Japan.
But Kent-born Francis is experienced compared to Bath wing Rory McConnochie, who gets the call despite being uncapped and having made just 12 Premiership starts.
Four years ago he was playing fifth tier rugby for Nuneaton. A year later he won an Olympic silver medal playing sevens for Team GB at the 2016 Rio Games.
Aside from Te’o and Brown, who also misses out, the big losers in selection are prop Harry Williams, lock Charlie Ewels and back row Brad Shields. Blindside bolter Lewis Ludlam makes the trip.
Jones, preparing for his fourth World Cup with his fourth different nation, has taken what many will see as a selection gamble by opting for just two players in both scrum-half and fly-half positions.
Willi Heinz, fresh from a 49-minute debut in Sunday’s win over Wales, is picked as No.9 back-up to Ben Youngs – ahead of Saracens duo Ben Spencer and Richard Wigglesworth.
Team captain Owen Farrell and George Ford fill the two playmaker slots – with Danny Cipriani missing out.
Jones said: “A lot of good players have missed out, we feel for them, I feel for them personally. But as we know the World Cup is an incredible tournament where opportunities can present themselves and all those players who have missed out have been told they have to be ready.
“We have taken the decision to go early because of what we learned from previous campaigns. We want the squad to know early and now we can get on and be the best prepared England side there has ever been, ready to win the World Cup.”
England rugby union squad
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps) ** Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps) Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 11 caps) Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 10 caps) Jamie George (Saracens, 37 caps) * Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27 caps) George Kruis (Saracens, 32 caps) * Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 59 caps) * Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 72 caps) ** Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 1 cap) Joe Marler (Harlequins, 58 caps) * Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22 caps) Jack Singleton (Saracens, 1 cap) Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 9 caps) Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 42 caps) * Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 53 caps) * Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons / Sale Sharks, 13 caps)
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 5 caps) Elliot Daly (Saracens, 31 caps) Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70 caps) * George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 56 caps) * Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, 5 caps) Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap) Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 41 caps) * Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 45 caps) * Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby, uncapped) Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 33 caps) * Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps) * Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps) * Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 34 caps) * Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 86 caps) **
* number of Rugby World Cup tournaments played
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