Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Nathan Hughes called-up for England's provisional elite player squad

Published 01/08/2016

Wasps back row Nathan Hughes has been picked by England for the first time
Wasps back row Nathan Hughes has been picked by England for the first time

England have seized the opportunity to select Fijian-born Nathan Hughes in a provisional elite player squad named for this weekend's pre-season training camp.

The 45-strong group also marks the return of Leicester hooker Tom Youngs and Gloucester wing Jonny May, but Danny Cipriani, Luther Burrell and Chris Ashton were notable omissions.

Hughes only qualified for England on residency grounds on June 27, but has been one of the Aviva Premiership's outstanding number eights since being plucked from obscurity by Wasps in 2013.

The 25-year-old, who picked up a rugby ball for the first time eight years ago after growing up playing hockey, is a powerful carrier and his appearance in the squad is an exciting development, even if there are misgivings over his work-rate and defence.

Jones - who has picked him at the earliest availability opportunity now that he is eligible for the Grand Slam champions - views him as a blindside flanker rather than number eight, the position Billy Vunipola has filled with distinction.

A window of opportunity has opened up for Hughes after James Haskell injured his foot in the second Test of the 3-0 whitewash of Australia in June, ruling him out of the autumn series against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and Australia.

Haskell, player of the series against the Wallabies, will still attend the three-day training camp in Teddington, south-west London, on August 6-8.

Youngs was a big-name omission from Jones' maiden squad named in January having been first choice in his position throughout last autumn's World Cup, but he is now one of four hookers among the 45.

The jet-heeled May sustained a serious knee injury in December and has been unavailable since, but his return to fitness has ended any slim hope Ashton had of forcing his way back into the fold.

Alongside Cipriani, who was discarded in May after leaving Jones unimpressed during a pre-Australia training camp in Brighton, the prolific Saracens wing has been overlooked once again.

Burrell's inclusion appeared highly unlikely from the moment he was substituted after a mere 28 minutes of the first Test against Australia due to defensive failings that led to tries being conceded.

He was an injury replacement for Manu Tuilagi in the touring party, but the Leicester centre features among the 45 instead.

Teimana Harrison endured a similar fate to Burrell - he was pulled half an hour into the third Test after failing to offer enough physicality - but the Northampton back row remains.

Two members of the England Under-20 squad that were crowned junior world champions are present in Leicester flanker Will Evans and Harlequins centre Joe Marchant.

"This camp sets the scene for November. It's important to catch up with the players prior to the start of the season and continue to put our plans in place," Jones said.

"We'll use this time to reset and review each player's goals so they're clear on what is expected of them between now and when we meet up again in October.

"It also gives us an opportunity to meet and assess some new players and ensure they are familiar with the England set-up.

"The long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby, so we've chosen a number of new faces to attend this camp on the form they have shown recently or the potential we see in them.

"There will always be opportunities for anyone playing consistently well in the Premiership at the start of the season to force their way into the EPS - the door is always open.

"Naturally players not included in this pre-season camp will be disappointed, but consistent high-level performances can change this."

The final 45-man EPS will be named on September 30 ahead of the autumn series when a clean sweep would extend England's triumphant run to 14 wins.

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph