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Bath back row Mercer one of eight uncapped players in Eddie Jones' England squad

The England head coach has a host of injuries and suspensions to big-name players.

Mercer with loosehead Ben Obano last weekend, who also is among the injury absentees.
Mercer with loosehead Ben Obano last weekend, who also is among the injury absentees.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

ENGLAND HEAD COACH Eddie Jones has included eight uncapped players in his squad for this year’s Six Nations.

The reigning champions have a number of big-name injuries going into the Championship with number eights Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes injured, along with Lions back Elliot Daly and suspensions to Joe Marler and James Haskell.

Bath back row Zach Mercer – who captained England U20s to Six Nations success last year – is the beneficiary of the injuries at number eight as he is promoted from the rank of apprentice player.

He joins his club-mate, hooker Tom Dunn, props Alex Hepburn, Lewis Boyce, back row Gary Graham, backs Nathan Earle, Harry Mallinder and Marcus Smith (who continues as an apprentice) among the uncapped contingent.

Eddie Jones Source: James Crombie/INPHO

In all, Jones’ squad is 35-strong and will travel to Portugal next week for a warm-weather training camp before returning to Pennyhill Park to finalise preparations for the Championship opener away to Italy on Sunday 4 February.

“I have selected the strongest available squad,” says Jones.

“It is important we start the tournament well and we will spend the next two weeks training smart and really fine-tuning our game plan for the Italy match next month.

“I am expecting a really positive training camp in Portugal and while we have a few players unavailable through injury or suspension, it has provided opportunity for others who will be desperate to be involved in the Italy game.”

England squad for 2018 Six Nations

Backs

Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Nathan Earle (Saracens) *
Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints) *
Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)
Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks)
Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Alex Lozowski (Saracens)
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors)
Marcus Smith (Harlequins) *
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Forwards

Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons) *
Nick Isiekwe (Saracens)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) *
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)
Lewis Boyce (Harlequins) *
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby) *
Jamie George (Saracens)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs) *
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)
Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)

(*denotes uncapped at international level)

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