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Ben Morgan picked in England squad for first time in three years amid No 8 crisis


Gloucester’s Ben Morgan has been named in an England squad for the first time in three years amid a No 8 crisis.

The 29-year-old has been called up by Eddie Jones for the first time after Billy Vunipola (fractured arm), Sam Simmonds (ACL knee injury) and Nathan Hughes (suspended) were all ruled out.

Jones has called up eight uncapped players in his 36-man squad to face South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia – including Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Nathan Earle (Harlequins), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby), Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), Michael Rhodes (Saracens), Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors) and Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby).

Within the backs, there is a recall for Chris Ashton – who last played for England in June 2014 – despite the fact he has yet to feature for Sale Sharks, while Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi is named and will be looking to win his first cap since March 2016.

The squad does not include Gloucester playmaker Danny Cipriani, who started England’s most recent Test match against South Africa in June – a Test England won 25-10.

Exeter backrow Don Armand, hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, Bath lock Dave Attwood and Saracens full-back Alex Goode are all also absent, despite eye-catching Premiership form. Experienced Leicester tighthead Dan Cole is also omitted.

Worcester’s 19-year-old lock Hill has been named an apprentice, while at loosehead prop – the other injury-plagued position which would have given Jones a headache – Exeter duo Ben Moon and Alec Hepburn are the only two players named.

Dylan Hartley and Owen Farrell have been listed as co-captains ahead of a busy month where England will host South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia, with all Tests live on Sky Sports.

“I’m really happy with the squad,” Jones said on Thursday. “We can only control what we can control and injuries have happened. It gives an opportunity for some good new players to play some important Tests for England while players who have been in the squad before, will have to take on more responsibility.

“We have taken a slightly different approach this year. With the World Cup in mind we are going to Portugal in the middle of next week until the Thursday of the Test week so will be back to train at Twickenham the day before we play South Africa.

“South Africa have been going really well. They have a new coach and have selected well. They play a traditional Springbok game up front and move the ball wide when they need to. We’ll need to take them on up front and when we have opportunities to score points we have to be good enough to take them.

“We love Twickenham. The players feel the support and we can’t wait to get out there and play in front of 82,000 against South Africa.”

England’s 36-man squad

Forwards (20): Tom Curry, Charlie Ewels, Jamie George, Dylan Hartley (co-captain), Alec Hepburn, Ted Hill, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Zach Mercer, Ben Moon, Ben Morgan, Michael Rhodes, Nick Schonert, Brad Shields, Kyle Sinckler, Elliott Stooke, Sam Underhill, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson.

Backs (16): Chris Ashton, Mike Brown, Danny Care, Joe Cokanasiga, Elliot Daly, Nathan Earle, Owen Farrell (co-captain), George Ford, Alex Lozowski, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Manu Tuilagi, Richard Wigglesworth, Ben Youngs.

Unavailable: Mako Vunipola (calf), Ellis Genge (knee), Beno Obano (knee), Matt Mullan (knee), Joe Launchbury (knee), Jonny Hill (hand), Nick Isiekwe (ankle), Chris Robshaw (knee), Sam Simmonds (knee), Jack Willis (knee), Billy Vunipola (arm), Dan Robson (ankle), Jonathan Joseph (ankle), Anthony Watson (Achilles), Marland Yarde (knee), Nathan Hughes (suspended), Joe Marler (retired).

#Followtherose this autumn as all of England’s Tests are live on Sky Sports throughout November and the series starts on Saturday 3 November against South Africa before clashes against New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

(c) Sky News 2018: Ben Morgan picked in England squad for first time in three years amid No 8 crisis