England head coach Steve Borthwick has made a number of changes in his first squad ahead of the start of the 2023 Six Nations.
The return of experienced tighthead prop Dan Cole is the big news with Borthwick looking to shore up their set-piece in time for the Rugby World Cup.
Cole has not played for the national team since the 2019 global tournament but is back as they look to sort out their scrum.
Elliot Daly is another interesting recall after the utility back dropped out of favour during the latter stages of Eddie Jones’ tenure.
He has been in fine form this season, however, and scored a hat-trick in Saracens’ victory over Lyon at the weekend.
Experienced trio axed
The biggest surprise comes in the form of Billy Vunipola’s omission, who has been axed despite playing well for Sarries over the past few months.
Borthwick has instead opted for the greater mobility of Sam Simmonds and Alex Dombrandt at number eight.
Jack Nowell and Jonny May are two more big absentees with the head coach looking at youth when it comes to the back three.
Uncapped duo Cadan Murley and Ollie Hassell-Collins have been named in the squad, while Max Malins is back.
Elsewhere behind the scrum, Dan Kelly and Joe Marchant return but Joe Cokanasiga is ousted and the in-form Ollie Lawrence fails to make it.
Up front, Ben Curry comes in with twin brother Tom currently injured, while Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl and Courtney Lawes, who has recovered from a head injury, are recalled.
First call-up for Fin Smith
Northampton Saints fly-half Fin Smith gets his first chance in an England squad after impressing since moving from Worcester Warriors.
He is one of five uncapped players, with George McGuigan, Jack Walker and the aforementioned Murley and Hassell-Collins the other newbies named in the 36-man group.
Borthwick said: “This is an exciting squad, with a blend of Six Nations experience and young talent, and includes players who are in excellent form in the Premiership.
“We are all looking forward to the challenges of the Six Nations and we will approach this great tournament with a spirit of courage and total commitment.
“I know the players can’t wait to get back to Twickenham and give our fans a performance they can be proud of.
“The hard work for the Scotland game starts now.”
England’s 36-man squad ahead of the Six Nations
Forwards: Ollie Chessum, Dan Cole, Ben Curry, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Joe Heyes, Jonny Hill, Nick Isiekwe, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, George McGuigan, Bevan Rodd, Sam Simmonds, Kyle Sinckler, Mako Vunipola, Jack Walker, Jack Willis
Backs: Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, Tommy Freeman, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Dan Kelly, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Alex Mitchell, Cadan Murley, Henry Slade, Fin Smith, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Jack van Poortvliet, Ben Youngs
READ MORE: Eddie Jones appointed new head coach on five-year deal after Rugby Australia sack Dave Rennie
The article England: Five uncapped players in Steve Borthwick’s first squad as Elliot Daly and Dan Cole handed recalls appeared first on Planetrugby.com.