CHRIS FOY: Some big-name stars may never recover from this SEISMIC upheaval… Eddie Jones’ new England squad is awash with quality but Jamie George and the Vunipola brothers must be furious at being dropped
- Eddie Jones has made some massive calls in picking his new-look England squad
- Jamie George, George Ford, Mako and Billy Vunipola were all left out the group
- They will be desperate to prove that the door is still ajar and has not been closed
- It is pleasing to see Sam Simmonds and Alex Dombrandt both selected
This is a seismic upheaval. There are so many big-name casualties of this England revamp and some will never recover from the setback. This will go down as the day when several high-profile Test careers ended abruptly.
Where to start? Saracens. There will be shock around the club. A day after they annihilated Bath at The Rec, they discover that many of their leading lights are out in the cold – seemingly no longer regarded as part of England’s brave new era.
Jamie George has been a man possessed in the last fortnight. The Lions hooker must have thought he would make the cut, especially as Luke Cowan-Dickie is now struggling with an injury. But his revived domestic form hasn’t saved him. It feels like a momentous decision and a staggering one.
The Saracens trio of Jamie George, Mako Vunipola and his brother Billy have all been left out of Eddie Jones’ England squad and will hope the door is still ajar for them
George Ford is another of the high profile casualties to have been dropped
Neither Vunipola has made it, which jars with the latest evidence. Both Billy and Mako were superb against Bath, but that will be viewed in the context of the hosts’ non-existent defensive resistance and shattered spirit.
Billy in particular has faded from the heights reached at the start of Jones’s tenure and the Australian has evidently lost patience – understandably. One stellar performance was not enough to save him. Apparently the door remains open, but it is only ajar.
Saracens’ director of rugby, Mark McCall, suggested he would be ‘amazed’ if all his senior men were not recalled by England.
He will be disappointed on their behalf but surely – privately – enthused by the prospect of how they will respond. Some Premiership teams are going to reap the whirlwind. George and the Vunipolas will be angry and highly dangerous. Saying they have a point to prove doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Owen Farrell (right) might count himself lucky to have been called up to the squad
Vunipola was outstanding for Saracens in their thumping victory over Bath
George Ford has every right to feel aggrieved too, despite all the fanfare around Marcus Smith, who has earned the chance to wear No 10 next month. Ford has played well this season, often very well.
The Tigers playmaker is 28 – still some way from being a fading force. He has 77 caps and will be hell-bent on ensuring he wins many more yet.
He has been sacrificed while Owen Farrell has been retained, which says more about the latter’s leadership influence than any suggestion that he has out-played his friend.
All the focus should be on the men who have been selected, but there must be real sympathy too for the likes of Dan Robson, the injury-cursed Jack Nowell, Ollie Lawrence, Lewis Ludlow and Joe Marchant.
Raffi Quirke (scoring) is a hugely exciting young talent doing well for Sale Sharks
Nic Dolly has started the season brilliantly in a powerful Leicester Tigers pack
Louis Lynagh has missed out too, which will have been noted by the Wallabies, as the Harlequins wing still qualifies for Australia.
The squad chosen is awash with quality. All those who marvel at their club deeds will be glad to see Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds given the chance to prove to Jones that they can make the grade as Test No 8s.
Both are rare talents. Sale scrum-half Raffi Quirke has rapidly emerged as a gifted contender, George Martin and Freddie Steward’s inclusion highlights the rise of Leicester’s new generation and Mark Atkinson is in too – striking a blow for uncapped 30-somethings.
A new team is destined to take shape, but some discarded members of the old team might not be ready to give up the fight just yet.