Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter have the chance to reignite their Test careers in England’s 34-man Six Nations training squad, with Sam Burgess also handed World Cup lift-off.
Burgess’ rugby league conversion has been fast-tracked by his selection to England’s second-string Saxons squad, while Cipriani and Easter come in from the cold.
Cipriani featured in two of England’s three Tests in New Zealand last summer, breaking a five-year international exile, but was omitted for the autumn series.
The 27-year-old has been mulling over a summer move to Toulon, but will stay at Sale if he can win the right to compete for a World Cup place.
Easter has not played for England since the 2011 World Cup, where he infamously commented “that’s £35,000 down the toilet” after the loss to France.
“It’s great to welcome back some of those players unavailable for the QBE internationals in the autumn,” said head coach Stuart Lancaster.
“They offer us a lot of quality and experience, so too Nick Easter, who has played well for Harlequins.
“With the injury to Ben Morgan, both he and Tom Waldrom in the Saxons will provide us with specialist number eight options alongside Billy Vunipola.
“That’s something we feel we need going into the tournament.”
Gloucester loose forward Morgan’s broken leg opened the door for Easter, who pleaded his case in a recent meeting with Lancaster.
The 36-year-old proved his desire to resurrect his Test career at 36, after signing a new two-year Harlequins contract.
Cipriani becomes the fourth fly-half in England’s squad, and will compete with George Ford, Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler for selection.
England open their Six Nations campaign against Wales in Cardiff on Friday, February 6.
Boss Lancaster will retain his 34-man training squad until he selects his first match squad for the Wales clash, on February 4.
The England squad will meet at their Pennyhill Park base to start preparations on Monday, January 26.
So Cipriani and Easter will have 10 days to state their case for Test action.
Bath’s league convert Burgess will line up for the Saxons as expected in their Friday, January 30 clash against Ireland Wolfhounds in Cork.
The former South Sydney battering ram should partner Exeter’s Henry Slade in midfield.
England boss Lancaster has chosen to replace Manu Tuilagi in his training squad with Bath’s Jonathan Joseph, with the Leicester talisman still struggling with groin trouble.
Tuilagi is not expected to recover in time to play any part in the competition, but Lancaster has retained the right to bring him back into his squad if he regains full fitness.
Leicester lock Graham Kitchener slots in for Courtney Lawes who is expected to miss at least the first two matches with ankle trouble.
Lawes is another that Lancaster will keep available in case he returns in time to feature in the latter stages of the tournament.
Dan Cole is also named in the squad despite still suffering from a foot injury, among six returning British and Irish Lions who missed the autumn.
Tom Croft has been named in the Saxons, alongside Saracens Under-20s graduate Maro Itojoe.
Any of the 58 players selected in both squads could yet win selection for the Six Nations opener against Wales.
Those who feature in the Saxons will be hard-pressed to cope with the quick turnaround however, but Burgess could be expected to make his Test debut at some point during the tournament.
Forwards: D Attwood (Bath), C Clark (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), A Corbisiero (Northampton), N Easter (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), G Kitchener (Leicester), G Kruis (Saracens), J Marler (Harlequins), G Parling (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Vunipola, M Vunipola (both Saracens), D Wilson (Bath), T Wood (Northampton), T Youngs (Leicester).
Backs: B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), L Burrell (Northampton), D Care (Harlequins), D Cipriani (Sale), K Eastmond (Bath), O Farrell (Saracens), G Ford (Bath), A Goode (Saracens), J Joseph (Bath), J May (Gloucester,), S Myler (Northampton), J Nowell (Exeter), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester), A Watson (Bath), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester).
England Saxons squad:
K Brookes (Newcastle), T Croft (Leicester), C Day (Northampton), L Cowan-Dickie, D Ewers (both Exeter), M Garvey (Bath), R Harrison (Sale), M Itoje (Saracens), M Kvesic (Gloucester), M Mullan (Wasps), H Thomas (Bath), T Waldrom (Exeter), A Waller (Northampton), R Webber (Bath).
C Ashton (Saracens), S Burgess (Bath), E Daly (Wasps), O Devoto (Bath), L Dickson (Northampton, capt), J Simpson (Wasps), H Slade (Exeter), M Yarde (Harlequins), C Wade (Wasps).