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Sam Underhill unlikely to feature in familiar England squad


Eddie Jones names his RBS 6 Nations squad on Friday morning

Eddie Jones names his RBS 6 Nations squad on Friday morning

Eddie Jones names his RBS 6 Nations squad on Friday morning

Eddie Jones will decline the opportunity to pick Sam Underhill in his RBS 6 Nations squad announced on Friday morning even though he views the Bath-bound flanker as available for selection.

Jones' back row options have been depleted by injuries to Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola, while James Haskell's recent comeback from foot surgery was aborted after 35 seconds due to concussion.

A possible reinforcement is 20-year-old Underhill, an openside of rich potential who is being mentored by World Cup winner Richard Hill but has made only 24 appearances for the Ospreys.

Jones insists Underhill's forthcoming move to Bath means he can be picked by England - Twickenham allows the selection of players based outside of the Aviva Premiership only in exceptional circumstances - but he believes this RBS 6 Nations has arrived too early in his career.

"Sam is available now - he wants to play for an English club and has signed for one," Jones said.

"If we wanted to force the issue we could, but at this stage we'll probably look at considering him for the summer tour to Argentina because he hasn't done enough."

Jones will keep faith with the players who completed an unbeaten 2016 consisting of 13 successive Test wins when he names his 34-man squad for the Championship.

Ellis Genge could be drafted in to add cover at loosehead prop, but with Jones insistent that Joe Marler might yet be fit for the opener against France on February 4, the Leicester front row may not be needed.

"You're always looking for extra talent, new talent," Jones said.

"I was out in Argentina last week. I came back in Sunday morning and watched 11 games, trying to catch up with where each player is. I'm always looking for that X factor player.

"There's a couple of young guys coming through, whether they'll be right for this Six Nations I don't know, but there are some good young players out there."

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