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England’s 2018 autumn internationals squad: The winners and losers | Rugby Union News

Who are the winners and losers from Eddie Jones' latest England squad?

Who are the winners and losers from Eddie Jones' latest England squad?

Who are the winners and losers from Eddie Jones’ latest England squad?

Eddie Jones confirmed his 36-man England squad for the upcoming autumn Tests on Thursday, , with intrigue, surprise and confusion abundant in a host of areas.

But which players did well out of the latest squad, and who can count themselves as unlucky?

We take a look through the winners and losers from England’s most recent panel below…

Prop

Winners: Alec Hepburn, Ben Moon, Nick Schonert

One position England have been hit extremely hard in with regards to injuries has been loosehead prop. Indeed some five players are unavailable in that one area for Jones with Mako Vunipola (calf), Ellis Genge (knee), Beno Obano (knee), Matt Mullan (knee) and Joe Marler (retired) all not involved.

As such Exeter Chiefs pair Alec Hepburn and Ben Moon – with zero starts and two Test caps between them – have been picked to cover the loosehead side of the scrum.

Alex Hepburn will be aiming for his first Test start in the wake of a stream of loosehead injuries Alex Hepburn will be aiming for his first Test start in the wake of a stream of loosehead injuries

Alex Hepburn will be aiming for his first Test start in the wake of a stream of loosehead injuries

Moon is uncapped at 29 and must have thought his Test chances were gone before this latest injury crisis, while Hepburn will be looking to add to the two caps he picked up off the bench back in February against Italy and Wales.

Ben Moon has never been capped before, but is one of only two looseheads named in the squad Ben Moon has never been capped before, but is one of only two looseheads named in the squad

Ben Moon has never been capped before, but is one of only two looseheads named in the squad

On the tighthead side, Worcester’s Nick Schonert is the big winner as the South Africa-born prop earns his first call-up. The 27-year-old qualifies on residency and will compete with Kyle Sinckler and Harry Williams for a squad place.

Losers: Dan Cole, Val Rapava-Ruskin

The big loser in the prop department is Leicester Tigers tighthead Dan Cole, who has been a near ever-present under Jones since 2016.

The 31-year-old has picked up 26 caps under Jones over the last two and a bit years – all but one of which have come from the start. But a drop-off in his displays and a propensity for giving away penalties has seen him excluded.

At loosehead, Gloucester’s Val Rapava-Ruskin will be disappointed he isn’t involved after a string of impressive displays had seemed to put him in the frame.

Gloucester prop Val Rapava-Ruskin has stood out in the Premiership, but has been overlooked Gloucester prop Val Rapava-Ruskin has stood out in the Premiership, but has been overlooked

Gloucester prop Val Rapava-Ruskin has stood out in the Premiership, but has been overlooked

Hooker

Loser: Luke Cowan-Dickie

No real winners at hooker with the selections of Dylan Hartley and Jamie George entirely expected, but what did come as a surprise is that they are the only two hookers picked at all among the 36-man squad.

Exeter’s Luke Cowan-Dickie would appear to be the fall guy here, having worked hard to put himself in contention for a matchday squad place.

He featured twice on the most recent tour to South Africa, and had started the campaign strongly for the Premiership leaders but will have to watch the matches on television, owing to Jones’ unusual decision to pick just two hookers.

Lock

Winner: Elliott Stooke

Uncapped and having only started two Premiership games this season for Bath, Elliott Stooke is the big winner in the second-row stakes.

The 25-year-old is largely behind Welshman Luke Charteris and Dave Attwood (more on him in a moment) at club level, but Jones has shown faith in him and now he must try and impress in camp and earn a spot on the park.

Loser: Dave Attwood

The second row is one of the most competitive areas in the England squad with British & Irish Lions Maro Itoje, George Kruis and Courtney Lawes involved, while the injured Joe Launchbury would usually also be there.

If ever a player looked to have done enough to make it back into the set-up, however, it was Bath’s Dave Attwood.

The lock moved to Toulon on loan at the end of last season and flourished, while this season at Bath his performances have been to a consistently high standard.

The 31-year-old hasn’t started a game for England since before the last World Cup – against Scotland in March 2015 – while he has never featured under Jones.

He looked for all money to have done enough for a squad spot this time around though, and the fact his club team-mates Stooke and Charlie Ewels – both of whom Attwood has been selected ahead of this season – have made it will sting all the more.

Backrow

Winners: Ben Morgan, Ted Hill, Mark Wilson, Michael Rhodes

Ben Morgan is the headline having made his first squad for three years. In fact, the 29-year-old will be looking for his first England cap since defeat to Australia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Ben Morgan received his first call-up to an England squad under Jones Ben Morgan received his first call-up to an England squad under Jones

Ben Morgan received his first call-up to an England squad under Jones

Injuries to Billy Vunipola’s arm and Sam Simmonds’ knee, coupled with Nathan Hughes’ costly suspension have handed Morgan a chance, with 21-year-old Zach Mercer the only other No 8 selected.

While Morgan may be the headline though, perhaps the biggest winner is Worcester’s 19-year-old Ted Hill, who earns selection as an apprentice completely out of the blue.

Worcester's Ted Hill is perhaps the most surprising inclusion within the 36-man group Worcester's Ted Hill is perhaps the most surprising inclusion within the 36-man group

Worcester’s Ted Hill is perhaps the most surprising inclusion within the 36-man group

He has only made three senior appearances (147 minutes in fact) since his Warriors debut back in September but former Worcester, Munster and Ireland second row Donncha O’Callaghan commented back in April that Hill was a “super young player who I believe could become a Lion”. It will be interesting to see if he is involved at all this November.

Saracens’ South Africa-born flanker Michael Rhodes and Newcastle’s Mark Wilson are also big winners, having earned selection ahead of other consistent performers.

Loser: Don Armand, Matt Kvesic

Two backrows from Premiership leaders Exeter will be immensely disappointed not to be involved – and maybe even three.

Don Armand has enjoyed a strong start to the season, while Matt Kvesic has been in superb form for a number of years but both have been overlooked. Indeed, their backrow partner Dave Ewers has been ignored too.

Exeter's Don Armand was heavily tipped to make the England backrow, let alone the squad Exeter's Don Armand was heavily tipped to make the England backrow, let alone the squad

Exeter’s Don Armand was heavily tipped to make the England backrow, let alone the squad

Armand has earned two caps to date – both off the bench – against Argentina in June 2017 and Ireland last March, while Kvesic has not started a Test for England since June 2013 and has only earned three caps – the last of which came off the bench in May 2016.

With a number of injuries in the backrow in addition to the players missing at No 8, such as Chris Robshaw and Jack Clifford, Armand and Kvesic might have thought it was their chance for inclusion.

Matt Kvesic was one of the best players on the pitch at No 8 for Exeter against Munster last week Matt Kvesic was one of the best players on the pitch at No 8 for Exeter against Munster last week

Matt Kvesic was one of the best players on the pitch at No 8 for Exeter against Munster last week

“For me, that ship has sailed,” Kvesic said of England to the Rugby Paper in August. “I’ve not been in the frame for so long now. Even when I have been playing what I’ve considered to be some of my best rugby, I’ve still never had much of a look in…I don’t know if it’s gone for good for me but it certainly feels that way.”

Half-backs

Loser: Danny Cipriani

There were no real outstanding winners in this category, but one notable loser in Danny Cipriani.

If someone was to say after England’s third Test victory against South Africa in Cape Town last June – a game Cipriani started and proved influential in – that the Gloucester 10 would not make the next England squad at all, few would have believed it.

Despite picking up the Premiership’s Player of the Month award for September and shown his immense skill in a multitude of games, the 30-year-old’s face doesn’t seem to fit the bill for Jones at present, for whatever reason.

It’s a curious situation for sure.

Centres

Winner: Manu Tuilagi

Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi has featured just once under Jones since the Australian took charge of England – off the bench against Wales in 2016 – due to a rotten run of injuries. But ahead of November, he finally appears to be fit.

With Jonathan Joseph out injured and Ben Te’o just coming back from a quad injury, Tuilagi could well be set for a starting place against the best southern hemisphere rugby can offer.

Whether he can return to the level he was at when he starred against the All Blacks in 2012 at Twickenham remains to be seen…

Back-three:

Winners: Chris Ashton, Joe Cokanasiga, Nathan Earle

For most players, if you were banned for the opening seven games of the season due to a tackle in a pre-season clash, that would spell the end to any hopes of being involved for the November Tests.

But such has been the form of Chris Ashton in recent years, the Sale back is picked in England’s squad anyway despite failing to yet play for the Sharks.

His tremendous scoring feats for Toulon last season, plus his outstanding display against England for the Barbarians in May, enticed him back to the country in the hopes of playing in white again.

Jones declined to pick Ashton throughout his first two seasons in charge, despite the 31-year-old performing for Saracens. Will he be thrown straight in now?

Joe Cokanasiga has really impressed for Bath this season with his power, finishing and offloading ability Joe Cokanasiga has really impressed for Bath this season with his power, finishing and offloading ability

Joe Cokanasiga has really impressed for Bath this season with his power, finishing and offloading ability

Other winners are Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga, whose form earns him a chance to earn a first cap, and the similarly uncapped Nathan Earle – whose move to Harlequins from Saracens for further game time has been vindicated with international selection.

Losers: Alex Goode

What more does Saracens full-back Alex Goode have to do to earn another shot with England under Jones?

Not since 2016 has he been involved, and this season he has been playing some of the best rugby of his career.

Nobody has more try assists than Goode so far this year, while he is in the top three for defenders beaten and metres made throughout the league.

But even with his sensational form, and with Anthony Watson out long-term due to an Achilles injury, the Saracens man is absent again.

#Followtherose this autumn with all of England’s Tests live on Sky Sports throughout November. The action starts on Saturday 3 November against South Africa before clashes against New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

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