England have rested George Ford and Jonny May for their summer campaign as Eddie Jones searches for a new generation of players capable of making an impact at the 2023 World Cup.
Fly-half George Ford and wing Jonny May, mainstays of the backline under Jones, have been stood down for next month’s Twickenham appointments with the United States and Canada, which are preceded by an ‘A’ international against Scotland.
Mark Wilson and Ben Youngs are also missing from the 34-strong group that contains 21 uncapped prospects despite being involved in the most recent outing, a 32-18 defeat by Ireland at the end of the Six Nations.
England are supplying 12 players to the British and Irish Lions and are also unable to select from Gallagher Premiership semi-finalists Bristol, Exeter, Sale and Harlequins as well as Championship finalists Saracens, although personnel from those clubs will be added when the squad is updated.
Jones has given any seasoned campaigner still available the summer off in the hope of repeating the success of four years ago when Tom Curry and Sam Underhill launched Test careers that saw them excel at the 2019 World Cup.
Head coach Jones said: “The senior players are very understanding. They know that they’ve had a particularly difficult period of time and that they need to rest, recuperate and get their bodies back into good condition.
“They’re all carrying an injury of some sort that they need to properly rehab, so it’s a great opportunity for them.
“George Ford has got a nagging calf injury he’s carried all season and battled through. The best thing for him is to have a recovery period and get his body ready for the next period of time.
“We’ll give as many new caps as deserve it. We were lucky enough in the corresponding series four years ago in Argentina to uncover talent like Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Mark Wilson.
“And if we were lucky enough to have that sort of success in producing a couple or three quality Test players, we’d be delighted.”
Of the 34 selected, Leicester prop Ellis Genge is the most experienced player with 28 caps. Only Genge, Charlie Ewels, Underhill and Dan Robson have reached double figures in appearances.
Joe Cokanasiga and Ben Spencer have opportunities to relaunch international careers that have stalled since the World Cup, while the likes of capped rookies Lewis Ludlam, Paul Hill and Ted Hill can also reignite their prospects.
But otherwise Jones has used the first of three squads to be named before the USA arrive at Twickenham on July 4 to bring in a wave of talent that is in the early stages of making an impression on the Premiership.
Former England forward Steve Ojomoh’s son Max is a newcomer to Bath’s side but Jones has seen enough to bring him in for a five-day camp that begins on Monday, while full-back Freddie Steward will look to continue the barnstorming form shown at Leicester.
Newcastle’s 23-year-old wing Adam Radwan has emerged as one of the Premiership’s deadliest finishers and England will be hoping that back row Tom Willis makes the same seamless transition to Test rugby as his injured brother Jack.
“It’s like a 21st birthday party – they’re all exciting. We want to see what they’ve got,” Jones said.