Former Sharks centre Barritt gets England call
Mike Tindall, Nick Easter and Mark Cueto were omitted from England’s 32-man elite player squad (EPS) on Wednesday as caretaker coach Stuart Lancaster included a raft of new faces to set about the defence of the Six Nations championship.
Centre Tindall was dropped from the squad as punishment for off-field misdemeanours during last year’s World Cup before being re-instated on appeal.
After the recent international retirements of Jonny Wilkinson, Lewis Moody and Steve Thompson, his omission represents the final severing of any link with the 2003 World Cup-winning team.
Lancaster announced his squad from England’s temporary training base in Leeds. In all there were nine uncapped players, four who have one cap and 13 changes from the World Cup campaign that ended with a quarter-final defeat by France.
Among the uncapped arrivals were Owen Farrell, son of former international and current assistant coach Andy and Ben Morgan, the Scarlets number eight who turned down an approach from Wales.
Also new are Lee Dickson, Jordan Turner-Hall, Phil Dowson, Calum Clark, Joe Marler, Brad Barritt and Rob Webber.
Flankers Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw, who has one cap, are widely considered to be vying for the captaincy but Lancaster said he would make that decision nearer the first match.
Several of the new faces are expected to start England’s first match of the championship away to Scotland on Feb. 4. which flyhalf Toby Flood, the squad’s most-capped player with 46, could miss through injury.
In Flood’s likely absence Charlie Hodgson is expected to start at flyhalf at Murrayfield and he could have an uncapped pair of Saracens team mates outside him as centres Farrell and Barritt are in hot form for the champions.
Also cut from the squad who travelled to New Zealand were backs Delon Armitage, Matt Banahan and Shontayne Hape and forwards James Haskell and Simon Shaw, who both took themselves out of contention by joining overseas clubs.
Scrumhalf Danny Care, who missed the World Cup through injury, was left out of the squad for the Six Nations as punishment for a drink-driving offence but can be drafted back into the EPS squad later in the year as changes for injury and other circumstances are allowed in the agreement with England’s professional clubs.
“In line with the selection philosophy about starting new era for English rugby we have taken the chance to make changes and give players opportunities to be part of the journey towards 2015,” said Lancaster, who has been given charge of the team for the Six Nations while England search for a permanent replacement for Martin Johnson.
“We have lost some great players who have worn the England shirt with pride and distinction — Lewis, Steve and Jonny — and we should thank them for all they did.
“Others haven’t been selected and I have met them and explained the reasons why as we look for the next player to step up in that position to take us forward.”
Prop Andrew Sheridan and scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth were not considered due to long-term injury.
Locks Dave Attwood Geoff Parling, fullback Alex Goode and centre Henry Trinder will join the elite squad as temporary injury replacements for Flood, Courtney Lawes, Louis Deacon and Manu Tuilagi, who are all set to miss the start of the Six Nations.