Joe Marler is a surprise inclusion in England’s Rugby World Cup training squad after a dramatic international retirement U-turn.
The Harlequins front-row retired last September to spend more time with his family but now finds himself in contention for a place on the plane to Japan.
Marler, 28, spoke with Eddie Jones last month and told the head coach he was ready to add to his 59 Tests for England.
“I saw Joe during the Barbarians’ week and he indicated that he had a desire to come back,” Jones said. “We have since had a couple of chats and we have given him the opportunity to do that. Now it is up to him to show us what he has got.”
There is a place in Jones’ squad for Gloucester’s Danny Cipriani and his club team-mate Willi Heinz is among four uncapped players included in the squad, joining Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints), Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath) and Jack Singleton (Saracens).
George Kruis (Saracens), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) and Mako Vunipola (Saracens) have not been named in the initial 35-man squad but will continue their rehabilitation and are still considered for selection, but there is still no place for Dylan Hartley.
BREAKING | Your 35-man England @rugbyworldcup training squad
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England’s first official training camp starts on Sunday and Jones must whittle his squad down to a final 31.
“We can’t wait to have the full squad in place and to have players competing for those 31 places,” Jones said.
“It is a process of building the team up, building the cohesion, the tactical understanding of the team and our adaptability. We will need to get those things right to win the World Cup, and that is our aim.
“World Cup selection is a four-year process. We have looked at the squad carefully, tried to build up a squad that has enough experience, attitude and energy to be winners and I think we have that.
“In the process, we have left out some players who can feel unlucky. For those guys who have missed out, the door is never closed but they have just got to be ready, as you never know when the opportunity comes.
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) July 4, 2019
“The players have come in the best physical condition I have ever seen an England squad. The attitude of the players is that they are excited and hungry, they want to do well for themselves, their family and for their country.”
England will begin their Rugby World Cup campaign in Japan against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22.
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