South African-born lock David Ribbans has been included in England’s 36-man squad for the revised 2020 Test season.
Ribbans, who has been sensational for the Northampton Saints since joining the club from Western Province in 2017, is one of nine uncapped players called up by coach Eddie Jones.
The other eight rookies are Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Ollie Thorley, Jacob Umaga, Tom Dunn, Jonny Hill, Beno Obano and Jack Willis.
The squad also includes seven Premiership finalists – Exeter Chiefs trio Hill, Henry Slade and Harry Williams, along with Wasps’ Joe Launchbury, Dan Robson, Umaga and Willis.
Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ali Crossdale, Courtney Lawes, Jack Nowell, Manu Tuilagi and Mark Wilson are unavailable due to injury, while Elliot Daly, George Ford and Joe Marler will join up with the squad for reconditioning.
England will play their final match of the rescheduled 2020 Six Nations against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday, knowing a bonus-point win could have them lift the trophy.
They will then return to begin their Nations Cup campaign at Twickenham where they will play three Tests against Georgia on 14 November and Ireland on 21 November, followed by a match against Wales away on 28 November, before a placing Test at home to determine final position in the competition on 6 December.
Commenting on his selections and the season ahead, Jones said: ‘We have to put our best foot forward if we want to win the Six Nations. We need to set the tone of the game and we want to put a smile on fans’ faces, a lot of people are enduring hardships and we are grateful for the opportunity to represent England in these difficult times.
‘We were obviously disappointed with the postponement of the Barbarians game but we moved to plan B, had a highly competitive training session instead of the match and now we are fully focused on the Italy game and the goal of winning the Six Nations.
‘It was a tough squad to pick and I know there are a number of disappointed players that have just missed out. We’ve got a good balance between experience and inexperience.
‘With nine players out injured, it does create some opportunities for the younger guys to show what they can do. We’re very happy with what we’ve seen in the mini camps and the Barbarians’ training week, it’s been really competitive.’
The squad 🌹
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) October 26, 2020
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