LONDON, United Kingdom, Aug 6 – England head coach Eddie Jones said four warm-up matches ahead of the Rugby World Cup will allow his side to fine-tune their game to the extent they will be ready to win the trophy for a second time.
The 59-year-old Australian — who was on the receiving end when as head coach of Australia when England won the Webb Ellis trophy in Sydney in 2003 — was speaking after naming a 33-player squad for the first of those games against Six Nations Grand Slam winners Wales at Twickenham on Sunday.
The squad includes four uncapped players with Jack Singleton and Lewis Ludlam joining the forwards and New Zealand-born scrum-half Willi Heinz and former England and Britain Sevens star Ruaridh McConnochie in the backs.
Jones has released back to their clubs experienced full-back Mike Brown, British and Irish Lions centre Ben Te’o, uncapped backrow forward Alex Dombrandt, and scrum-half Ben Spencer, who was pivotal to Saracens winning the European Champions Cup and English Premiership double last term.
Exeter Chiefs outstanding wing Jack Nowell will continue his rehabilitation on an ankle injury — which he suffered in the 37-34 Premiership final defeat by Saracens on June 1.
“We have worked hard (at a training camp in Treviso, Italy) and now move into a four-game preparation phase where the development of the team tactically is paramount,” said Jones in a RFU statement.
“We are grateful for the strong opposition to test our game fitness.
“By the time we fly out on the 8th of September we will be ready to win the Rugby World Cup.
“We are not there yet but we have four games to get ready.”
Jones, who guided England to two Six Nations titles including the 2016 Grand Slam since he took over after they exited the 2015 World Cup in the pool stage, said there was still hope for those players omitted from this squad to make the plane for Japan.
“Players excluded from being involved in this camp are naturally disappointed but may get another opportunity so they must be ready,” he said.
England play a return match against Wales on August 17 in Cardiff followed by games against Ireland (August 24), and Italy (September 6) prior to departure for Japan.
Once there England will begin their World Cup campaign against Tonga in Sapporo (September 22) before playing the United States in Kobe (September 26), 2015 semi-finalists Argentina in Tokyo (October 5) and round off their pool matches against old foes France in Yokohama (October 12).
Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers) Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs) Tom Curry (Sale Sharks) Charlie Ewels (Bath) Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers) Jamie George (Saracens) Maro Itoje (Saracens) George Kruis (Saracens) Joe Launchbury (Wasps) Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints) Joe Marler (Harlequins) Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins) Jack Singleton (Saracens) Sam Underhill (Bath) Billy Vunipola (Saracens) Mako Vunipola (Saracens) Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs) Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons/Sale Sharks)
Backs: Joe Cokanasiga (Bath) Elliot Daly (Saracens) Owen Farrell (Saracens) George Ford (Leicester Tigers) Piers Francis (Northampton Saints) Willi Heinz (Gloucester) Jonathan Joseph (Bath) Joe Marchant (Harlequins) Jonny May (Leicester Tigers) Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath) Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs) Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) Anthony Watson (Bath) Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)