Eddie Jones will announce his World Cup squad at lunchtime today, well in advance of the official deadline in a move welcomed by the players.
Almost a month before World Rugby’s official deadline, Jones will unveil the 31 who will travel to Japan in the hope of emulating the success of Martin Johnson’s 2003 global champions.
Ben Te’o could be the biggest casualty after being overlooked for Sunday’s thumping victory over Wales as punishment for being involved in an altercation with Mike Brown during a recent team-bonding social event.
Ben Te’o could be a high-profile casualty (Adam Davy/PA)
Te’o has been an ever-present under Jones and appeared a certainty for Japan 2019 until clashing with Brown in Treviso, Italy.
After Wales were swept aside at Twickenham, the players returned to their team hotel in west London knowing they would soon learn if they are to be given their shot at the sport’s greatest prize.
Those who are successful will travel to Bristol on Tuesday morning to begin preparations for the return fixture with Wales in Cardiff, while the others will be sent back to their clubs.
Jones’ decision to finalise his squad well before World Rugby’s cut-off point and before all his rivals except France is curious, but the break with convention has the approval of Ben Youngs.
Four years ago, under Stuart Lancaster, selection went down to the wire with the choice between rugby league convert Sam Burgess and the more established Luther Burrell for the final midfield slot disturbing squad harmony as England 2015 fast approached.
“I can only speak from previous experiences, but I believe that naming the squad early is definitely the right thing,” veteran scrum-half Ben Youngs said.
“The earlier you name it the more you can tighten up as a group and continue to work, so for me it makes perfect sense. It’s hugely beneficial for us as a squad to know that from past experiences.
“You want to know and the longer you leave it the more the elephant in the room appears. ‘What’s happening? Am I in or am I out? Who’s going?’.
“People talking about it, people wondering, people questioning every time, ‘How did I train? Do you think that has helped? Has it impacted?’.
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“Once you know the 31 you can crack on. If you leave it longer I don’t think it benefits the cohesion of the squad.
“I don’t think it benefits guys’ understanding of their roles and where they are at so for me I think it makes perfect sense that it is named early.
“But everyone knows the selection process has to happen. You respect it, you have to just wait and see what decisions are made. We are all men.”
– Press Association
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