Even by his normal standards, Eddie Jones has given the selectorial wheel a vigorous spin by naming 21 uncapped players in a 34-strong squad for England’s summer series. In the absence of his British & Irish Lions contingent and with several senior players rested, Jones is challenging all the new faces to make an instant impact before this month’s A game against Scotland and the subsequent July Tests against the United States and Canada.
Perhaps the most rapid promotion is that of the 20-year-old centre Max Ojomoh, who has started just one Premiership game in his brief first-class career and is the son of the former international forward Steve Ojomoh. With Tom de Glanville also looking to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Phil, the squad list makes evocative reading for Bath and England fans of a certain vintage.
Other emerging names include the youthful Leicester backline pair of Dan Kelly, who does not turn 20 until next week, and Freddie Steward, London Irish’s promising lock Chunya Munga, the Bath flanker Miles Reid and the Newcastle winger Adam Radwan. There will also be widespread joy for the Wasps winger Josh Bassett, whose consistent try-scoring record at club level has brought a deserved first call at the age of 29.
Jones is adamant there remains a big gap between club rugby and the Test arena but will be watching closely to see which individuals can respond positively to that challenge. He also clearly trusts the judgment of the former England forwards turned coaches Dean Richards and Steve Borthwick, with Newcastle and Leicester supplying virtually a third of the squad, including the Falcons’ homegrown tight forwards Trevor Davison and Jamie Blamire as well as the 19-year-old Tiger George Martin, already capped in this year’s Six Nations.
All will be invited to fill the substantial holes left by players such as George Ford, Jonny May, Ben Youngs, Jonathan Joseph and Will Stuart, who have been given the summer off after a demanding couple of seasons.
The number of summer absentees will potentially increase, with Jones waiting for this month’s Premiership and Championship play-offs to unfold before deciding how many players from Bristol, Exeter, Sale, Harlequins and Saracens will be added to the mix.
Either way, the management hope the latest batch of young English talent will step up as impressively as Tom Curry and Sam Underhill did in similar circumstances in Argentina four years ago.