Eight uncapped players in England squad to face Italy

Eight uncapped players in England squad
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Lewis Boyce and Alec Hepburn are called up to the England senior squad for the first time as two of eight uncapped players for the Six Nations opener against Italy.

England head coach Eddie Jones has named eight uncapped players in his squad to face Italy in next month's Six Nations opener.

Harlequins and Exeter Chiefs props Lewis Boyce and Alec Hepburn are among those to be called up for the first time, while Newcastle Falcons flanker Gary Graham is also included.

Due to the loss of Nathan Hughes and Billy Vunipola, who are expected to play no part in the tournament, Zach Mercer of Bath has also been named in the squad by Jones.

There is plenty of experience elsewhere in the 35-man group, however, boasting 898 caps between them.

Jones will take his players to Portugal for a week-long training camp early next week, before returning to Pennyhill Park to prepare for the clash with Italy in Rome on February 4.

Speaking after unveiling his group for the Italy opener, the Red Rose boss said: "I have selected the strongest available squad to prepare for our opening match against Italy.

"It is important we start the tournament well and we will spend the next two weeks training smart and really fine-tuning our gameplan 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."

Elliot Daly is another of the experienced pros to miss out on selection due to an ankle injury, while James Haskell and Joe Marler are banned.

England squad to face Italy:


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


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

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Eddie Jones pictured on June 25, 2016
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