Eddie Jones looks set to select a sprinkling of uncapped talent and leave out some established names when his first England elite player squad is announced today.
It is understood the 33-man group will include newcomers like Wasps centre Elliot Daly, Saracens forward Maro Itoje, and Harlequins flanker Jack Clifford.
Exeter back Sam Hill and Sale Sharks No 8 Josh Beaumont — son of England’s 1980 Grand Slam captain Bill Beaumont — are also thought to have made an impression on Jones.
Although injuries will impact selection — Henry Slade, Jonny May, Dave Attwood, Ed Slater, and Kieran Brookes are among those sidelined for some, or all, of this season’s Six Nations — head coach Jones has also left his mark.
World Cup squad members Brad Barritt, Tom Wood, Joe Marler, Geoff Parling, and Richard Wigglesworth could all miss out as Jones builds towards the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6.
While no announcement will be made today regarding the England captaincy — it is set to be announced in a fortnight — Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley remains favourite for the role, replacing Chris Robshaw, who will remain part of Jones’s plans.
There is likely to be a place in the squad for Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi, who began his comeback after 15 months out with groin trouble during the Tigers’ thrilling Premiership victory over Northampton at the weekend.
While Tuilagi is some way short of full match fitness and unlikely to be considered for England’s opening Six Nations flurries, his game-breaking quality makes him a pivotal figure, especially building towards a three-Test summer tour to Australia.
Tuilagi, Hill, Daly, and Bath’s Jonathan Joseph are the probable centres in Jones’ squad, although it is expected that Saracens’ Owen Farrell will wear the No 12 shirt against Scotland, with George Ford at fly-half and Daly or Joseph filling outside centre duties.
Two of the Premiership’s in-form wings, meanwhile, look set for recalls. Saracens’ prolific try-scorer Chris Ashton, who won the last of his 39 caps in June 2014, and once-capped Bath player Semesa Rokoduguni are both on Jones’ radar.
Looking ahead to the squad announcement, Jones said: “It’s very exciting.
“There is a lot of good talent in England, and it’s about bringing it through. We’ve got to back a few players, and hopefully they will develop.”
Asked what sort of playing style can be expected from England, Jones added: “We’re going to win. When you are coaching a team, you don’t move away from the natural part of the team.
“Successful England teams in the past have always had a good setpiece and a good defence. We want to have those things.
“We want a really good scrum, so we might bring some of the old blokes back.
“But we’ve got to add to that, we have to develop a much more adaptive attacking game.
“We’ve always got to have the mindset of wanting to attack.”
“If you look at the Six Nations since 2003, England are ranked fourth in terms of trophies. So it would be nice to bring one home.”
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