IT was great to see five Exeter Chiefs players named in the England training squad taking part in a pre-season camp at the Lensbury Hotel this weekend.
Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, prop Harry Williams, scrum-half Jack Maunder, centre Henry Slade and winger Jack Nowell were all selected by England head coach Eddie Jones in the 37-man squad for the three-day camp in Teddington, which ends tomorrow.
Nowell joined Dan Cole, Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler and Bath’s Anthony Watson in spending one day in camp while the other British and Irish Lions players opted to remain on their summer break, with Nowell and Watson there tomorrow.
Nine players who made their debuts on England’s successful tour of Argentina in June were chosen, including Tom Curry, Piers Francis, Nick Isiekwe, Alex Lozowski, Maunder, Denny Solomona, Bath’s Sam Underhill, Williams and Mark Wilson.
Manu Tuilagi joined up with the England squad, having last played for his country during the 2016 RBS 6 Nations. 18 year-old Marcus Smith (Harlequins) was also called up, having been involved in some sessions at England’s training camp in Brighton at the end of last season, as well as playing in England U20s’ 2017 Six Nations Grand Slam-winning squad.
Bath hooker Tom Dunn was another named in the training squad, along with his Rec team-mate Charlie Ewels, and Gloucester’s Leicester-bound winger Jonny May.
The camp involved medical checkups, functional and rugby training, planning meetings and individual reviews as England begin their preparations for the upcoming Old Mutual Wealth Series. The seven players involved with the Lions tour who have opted to attend the camp will not train and will only take part in medical check-ups, as well as coach and strength and conditioning reviews.
The home Old Mutual Wealth Series played in November will involve three Tests against Argentina (November 11), who England beat 2-0 in June; Australia (November 18), who have lost on the previous four occasions to England; and
Samoa (November 25) who last played England in 2014. Jones said: ‘We are at an incredibly important stage with two years to go to the World Cup in Japan and there is still a big step to make if we want to be the number one team in the world. We are going to have to be meticulous in our preparation in everything we do as we build towards Tokyo, and that is why this camp is vital ahead of this season.
‘The players, coaches and staff will use these three days to reconnect and ensure we are all clear on what our priorities and expectations are ahead of the Premiership season as well as the upcoming Old Mutual Wealth Series.’
Following two camps in August and September (Oxford), a final England squad will be announced on October 26 to play in the Old Mutual Wealth Series. England will travel to Portugal for a week’s training camp at the end of October before final preparations begin at Pennyhill Park ahead of the first Test versus Argentina.