- Eddie Jones has made some big calls in choosing his revamped England squad
- Jamie George, George Ford, Mako and Billy Vunipola were all dropped from the group.
- They will be desperate to prove that the door is still open and not closed.
- Nice to see both Sam Simmonds and Alex Dombrandt selected
It is a seismic upheaval. Many big names have been injured in this reform of England and some will never recover from this shock. It will diminish as the day many high-profile Test careers came to an abrupt end.
Where to start? Saracens. There will be shock around the club. A day after destroying Bath in The Rick, he discovers that several of his major lights are out in the cold – seemingly no longer part of England’s Brave New Era.
Jamie George has been with a man over the past fortnight. The Lions hooker would have thought he would make the cut, especially with Luke Cowan-Dickie now battling an injury. But his revived home form didn’t save him. It seems like an important decision and a staggering one.
The Saracens trio of Jamie George, Mako Vunipola and their brother Billy have been dropped from Eddie Jones’s England squad and they hope the door is still open for them
George Ford is one of the high profile casualties who have been evacuated
Neither has Vunipola made it, the jar with the latest evidence. Billy and Mako were both brilliant against Bath, but this will be seen in the context of the hosts’ non-existent defensive resistance and shattered spirit.
Billy especially has faded from the heights reached at the start of Jones’ tenure and the Aussie has clearly lost patience – understandable. A stellar performance was not enough to save him. Apparently the door stays open, but it’s only ajar.
The Saracens’ director of rugby, Mark McCall, suggested he would be ‘shocked’ if England did not withdraw all their senior men.
He will be disappointed on their part but certainly – in private – will be excited by the prospect of how they will react. Some premiership teams are going to bite the whirlwind. George and Vunipolus will be furious and overly dangerous. Saying they have a point to prove doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Owen Farrell (right) may consider himself lucky to have been called into the squad
Vunipola was outstanding for Saracens in his thumping win over Bath
George Ford also has every right to feel sad despite all the fanfare around Marcus Smith, who has earned the chance to wear No. 10 next month. Ford has played well this season, often very well.
The Tigers playmaker is 28 years old – still a far cry from being a fading force. He has 77 caps and will look to make sure he still wins even more.
Owen Farrell is retained while he is sacrificed, which says more about the influence of the latter’s leadership than any suggestion that he played his friend.
All the attention should be on the men who have been chosen, but there should also be genuine sympathy for the likes of Dan Robson, injury-damaged Jack Novell, Ollie Lawrence, Louise Ludlow and Joe Marchant.
Raffi Quirke (scoring) is an extremely exciting young talent who is doing well for the sales sharks
Nick Dolly has started the season off brilliantly in a mighty Leicester Tigers pack
Louis Lynagh has also missed, which the Wallabies would have noted, as the Harlequin wing still qualified for Australia.
The shaft chosen is loaded with quality. All those who marvel at their club’s work will be delighted to see that Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds have been given the opportunity to prove to Jones that they can make the grade as Test No.
Both are rare talents. Sales scandal-half Rafi Quirke has rapidly emerged as a talented contender, the inclusion of George Martin and Freddie Steward highlights the rise of Leicester’s new generation and Mark Atkinson is also a blow to the uncapped 30-somethings.
A new team is set to take shape, but some of the discarded members of the old team may not be ready to leave the fight yet.