England coach Eddie Jones believes rugby has a major problem on its hands.
Prop Ellis Genge has been recalled to England’s squad for their Six Nations title defence just weeks after being dropped by coach Eddie Jones.
Genge broke into the national set-up last year, debuted as a replacement against Wales in May and was on the fringes, only to be axed on December 31 from the elite player squad.
His recall follows strong performances for Leicester against Munster, Saracens and Wasps.
Also present, having missed a two-day training camp in Brighton earlier this month, are flanker Jack Clifford, centre Henry Slade and lock Joe Launchbury.
“This time last year, I said that the long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most-dominant team in world rugby,” Jones said.
“Obviously, I’ve been pleased with how the team’s progressing, but there’s still plenty to improve on. We always want to get better – every training session, every game.”
There are three uncapped players – back-rower Mike Williams, prop Nathan Catt and five-eighth Alex Lozowski.
Catt is competing with Genge as loosehead cover for Matt Mullan, who benefits from injuries to Mako Vunipola and Joe Marler.
Flanker James Haskell, lock Maro Itoje, wingers Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell, and back-rower Jack Clifford feature in the 34-man squad after missing the autumn through injury.
“I’ve been impressed with the three uncapped players named in the squad,” Jones said.
“They’re all guys who have great physical capabilities and … a desire to improve. With a number of injuries to some key players, it’s a great opportunity for them.
“It’s good to welcome back a number of players who weren’t with us during the autumn.
“Maro Itoje has done well for his club, as has Jack Nowell. James Haskell was magnificent for England last year … Anthony Watson has been a fine player for England and is one of the most-prolific try-scorers.
“At the start of last year’s Six Nations, I probably didn’t realise the enormity of the tournament and how intense the rivalry is between the countries so, this year, we’ll be better prepared for it and we are looking forward to being daring in our game against France on 4 February.”
Forwards: N Catt, J Clifford, D Cole, C Ewels, E Genge, J George, T Harrison, D Hartley, J Haskell, N Hughes, M Itoje, G Kruis, J Launchbury, C Lawes, J Marler, M Mullan, K Sinckler, T Taylor, M Williams, T Wood.
Backs: M Brown, D Care, E Daly, O Farrell, G Ford, J Joseph, A Lozowski, J May, J Nowell, H Slade, B Te’o, A Watson, M Yarde, B Youngs.