England made 15 changes to its last rugby squad following an unsuccessful World Cup campaign, with interim head coach Stuart Lancaster including nine uncapped players among the group for the Six Nations.
Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell of Saracens, Northampton’s Lee Dickson and Calum Clark, and Scarlets No. 8 Ben Morgan are among the new players in the squad, the Rugby Football Union said in a statement today.
Lancaster, who was appointed last month after Martin Johnson quit in November, said the changes are part of a long-term view toward the next World Cup, which England will host.
“Lots of players have been putting their hands up and there were some tough calls to make,” Lancaster said in the statement. “However, in line with the selection philosophy about starting new era for English rugby, we have taken the chance to make changes and give players opportunities to be part of the journey towards 2015.”
Mike Tindall, Mark Cueto and Nick Easter are among senior players omitted, while England’s record points scorer Jonny Wilkinson, Lewis Moody and Steve Thompson have retired. Danny Care was not considered following an arrest for drunk driving.
Ten changes are allowed in a Rugby World Cup year over and above international retirements and long-term injuries, the RFU said.
Dave Attwood, Alex Goode, Geoff Parling and Henry Trinder will join the squad from England’s development team, known as the Saxons, as temporary replacements for Courtney Lawes, Toby Flood, Louis Deacon and Manu Tuilagi who are struggling with injuries.
Lancaster will remain in charge until the RFU names a permanent replacement for Johnson. The governing body has said it plans to do so by June. He is assisted by Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, the father of 20-year-old Owen.
“We are looking both at the present and just as importantly the future,” Lancaster said. “We wanted to get the right balance in potential and experience and giving us the flexibility to play in different ways.”
The squad will meet for a training camp on Jan. 23, with England’s opening Six Nations match against Scotland in Edinburgh on Feb. 4.
FORWARDS: Mouritz Botha (Saracens) Callum Clark (Northampton Saints) Alex Corbisiero (London Irish) Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers) Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers) Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers) Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints) Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) Joe Marler (Harlequins) Lee Mears (Bath Rugby) Ben Morgan (Scarlets) Tom Palmer (Stade Francais) Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) Matt Stevens (Saracens) Rob Webber (London Wasps) David Wilson (Bath Rugby) Tom Wood (Northampton Saints) BACKS Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints) Brad Barritt (Saracens) Mike Brown (Harlequins) Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints) Owen Farrell (Saracens) Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers) Ben Foden (Northampton Saints) Charlie Hodgson (Saracens) Joe Simpson (London Wasps) Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby) David Strettle (Saracens) Maunsamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins) Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)