England coach Eddie Jones and Wallabies’ Dave Rennie have named their squads for the three-Test series in July with Jones opting for 36 tourists and Rennie settling on 35.
Jones suffered a late blow when Alex Dombrandt was ruled out after suffering a knee injury ahead of the squad’s heavy defeat to the Barbarians on Sunday.
Jones named Saracens No 8 Billy Vunipola, who was concussed in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final defeat by Leicester Tigers.
George Ford rolled an ankle in that game too, and is out of the tour, joining Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Kyle Sinckler, Anthony Watson, Louis Lynagh and George Furbank as casualties.
Rennie seems to be more settled with his squad.
He gave his three allotted overseas slot to Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete. Rennie is allowed to change the three players for each series, so conceivably can pick a new three for The Rugby Championship, and again for the Spring Tour. European-based forwards Rory Arnold and Will Skelton are likely to come into the frame.
Wallabies (1-15): James Slipper, Dave Porecki, Allan Alaalatoa, Darcy Swain, Matt Philip, Rob Leota, Michael Hooper (c), Rob Valetini, Nic White, Quade Cooper, Marika Koroibete, Samu Kerevi, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Tom Banks.
RESERVES: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Taniela Tupou, Jed Holloway, Pete Samu, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor, Jordan Petaia.
England* (1-15): Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Will Stuart, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care, Marcus Smith, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Joe Marchant, Joe Cokanasiga,, Freddie Steward.
RESERVES: Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Heyes, Charlie Ewels, Lewis Ludlam, Harry Randall, Jack Nowell, Henry Arundell.
*England’s predicted team selected by Nick Bishop.
The addition of an Australian A team in the Pacific Nations Cup will also feed into Rennie’s Test selections as he decides who will benefit from being a starter against Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. Those games are on the same dates as the Wallabies vs. England Tests.
Rennie’s squad featured six uncapped players and some big omissions including Rebels’ Reece Hodge and Reds No.7 Fraser McReight.
Rennie said his toughest selection call when having to nail down a match day 23 would be at halfback, with Nic White, Tate McDermott, Jake Gordon all in good form during the Super Rugby season.
Rennie has stuck with Tom Banks as his top fullback option, although he sung the praises of Jordan Petaia, who is also in the squad. Jock Campbell, of the Reds, missed out altogether.
Allan Alaalatoa, Tom Banks, Angus Bell, Quade Cooper, Pone Fa’amausili, Folau Fainga’a, Nick Frost, Jake Gordon, Michael Hooper, Jed Holloway, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Rob Leota, Noah Lolesio, Lachlan Lonergan, Tate McDermott, Cadeyrn Neville, James O’Connor, Hunter Paisami, Izaia Perese, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, David Porecki, Pete Samu, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Darcy Swain, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Suliasi Vunivalu, Nic White, Harry Wilson, Tom Wright.
Kurtley Beale misses out through injury and Reece Hodge has been dropped back to Australia A, with Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu and Toni Pulu ignored.
Rennie named Suli Vunivalu but hinted it was more to do with wanting to help him develop further. It seems the NRL convert will miss the first Test 23 but could play a role later.
Tom Banks should start at fullback with Marika Koriobete and Andrew Kellaway on the wings. Jordan Petaia and Tom Wright could be battling each other for a place on the bench with one to miss out altogether.
Selections: Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway, Marika Koroibete, Jordan Petaia, Suliasi Vunivalu, Tom Wright.
Samu Kerevi should be second name on the team sheet after captain Michael Hooper and one from each of the Brumbies, Reds and Tahs in Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami and Izzy Perese joined him in the squad. Kerevi and Ikitau should start meaning Perese and Paisami potentially miss out on the 23 altoghether.
Selections: Samu Kerevi, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Izaia Perese.
James O’Connor looked to have the No.10 jersey locked in for the England series before suffering the latest in a long line of injury problems that kept him out of the end of the Reds’ Super Rugby campaign.
That has given Quade Cooper, who has looked fit and raring to go in recent social media posts, the inside line to reprise the impressive job he did against the Springboks last season.
Noah Lolesio had plenty of minutes last winter then left off the Spring Tour and his growing pains conintued with mixed performances for the Brumbies..
Selections: Quade Cooper, James O’Connor, Noah Lolesio.
Rennie called this the toughest decision facing him when it comes to finding two for the matchday squads, although for now the top three are straightforward. Nic White has done enough this season to establish himself as the main main, leaving Tate McDermott and Jake Gordon to contest a place on the bench for the England Tests.
Selections: Nic White, Tate McDermott, Jake Gordon.
Rennie was grateful to see Rob Valetini play 40 minutes in the Super Rugby Pacific semi against Auckland Blues and he will be an integral part of the England series. Michael Hooper is first picked at No.7, and Fraser McReight was left out because of Pete Samu’s greater versatility.
Rob Leota has been in strong form for the Rebels since returning from injury and is a likely starter at No.6, while Pete Samu should reprise his backrow finisher role.
Rennie has made it clear he sees Jed Holloway as a No.6 or No.8 rather than a lock, so we’ll place him in this group.
Selections: Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini, Harry Wilson.
Izack Rodda’s surprise injury – Rennie says he could be out for three months – is a blow. Matt Philip or Caydern Neville look likely to battle it out to partner Darcy Swain.
Holloway brings an option while Nick Frost was rewarded for backing out of a contract in Japan to stay loyal.
Will Skelton and Rory Arnold are being held in reserve for now due to European commitments.
Selections: Nick Frost, Caydern Neville, Matt Philip, Darcy Swain.
Waratah Dave Porecki is shaping as the front runner for a debut, but Folau Fainga’a – who is one of four big guns leaving the Brumbies in the next fortnight – is also a good chance, although his tackle technique could be a concern to the coach. Lachie Lonergan is the third option at No.2.
Selections: Dave Porecki, Folau Fainga’a, Lachie Lonergan.
Taniela Tupou missed the end of the season with a calf injury but hopes to be back in time to meet England, although Rennie says he’s cutting it fine. He was used in tandem with Allan Alaalatoa last year, with the Brumbies captain often given the starting nod.
Tupou’s status will have an impact, as James Slipper could be moved in as cover.
If Taniela is fit Slipper might start at No.1, although Angus Bell with another year behind him could be unleashed.
Scott Sio and Pone Fa’amausili were also named but Harry Johnson-Holmes is on standby and will play for Australia A if Tupou is fit.
Selections: Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou.
Eddie Jones was missing 10 players through injury when he named his team. Nic Dolly, Alex Dombrandt, George Ford, Joe Launchbury, Louis Lynagh, Sam Simmonds, Kyle Sinckler, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi and Anthony Watson were all unavailable for selection.
Jones said: “Though we have ten players unavailable due to injury, we have picked a very strong squad capable of winning the series.
“This squad is a real mix of young, talented players and some very experienced, senior players and we’re looking forward to bring the group together.
“This tour will be a great experience for the group and a crucial part of the team’s work towards the Rugby World Cup in 2023. We will continue to develop the base of the squad and how we want to play.
“We’ve put a lot of work into preparation for the tour over the past few weeks but now the hard work really begins when we finally get the squad on the plane and to Australia.”
Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 34 caps)
Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 40 caps)
Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 30 caps)
Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 36 caps)
Jamie George (Saracens, 66 caps)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)
Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 7 caps)
Maro Itoje (Saracens, 56 caps)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 93 caps)
Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 11 caps)
Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)
Patrick Schickerling (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 20 caps)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 28 caps)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 61 caps)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 67 caps)
Jack Walker (Harlequins, uncapped)
Jack Willis (Wasps, 3 caps)
Henry Arundell (London Irish, uncapped) *apprentice player
Danny Care (Harlequins, 84 caps)
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 11 caps)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
Owen Farrell (Saracens, 94 caps)
Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)
Will Joseph (London Irish, uncapped) *apprentice player
Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 12 caps)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 69 caps)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 39 caps)
Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 6 caps)
Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 10 caps)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 10 caps) .