Hartley and Ashton return in Jones' first England squad


Controversial hooker Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton have been recalled to the England team for Eddie Jones' first Six Nations squad, while there are call-ups for seven uncapped players.

Northampton Saints star Hartley was omitted by former coach Stuart Lancaster for the Rugby World Cup after he was suspended for headbutting Saracens hooker Jamie George.

However, Hartley has since emerged as a surprise contender to become England captain, with speculation rife that Jones - who replaced Lancaster in November - will take the armband off Chris Robshaw following England's dismal World Cup campaign that saw them become the first host nation to be eliminated at the pool stage.

Saracens winger Ashton has not played for England since June 2014, but he has 19 tries in 39 Tests for his country and is included by Jones, who is without the injured Jonny May for the Six Nations.

Fellow winger Marland Yarde, who missed out on World Cup selection, also returns to the fold.

Despite his inclusion, powerhouse Leicester Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi will not be considered for England's Six Nations opener against Scotland after returning from more than a year out of action with a groin injury against Northampton last weekend.

There is also no place for enigmatic Sale Sharks fly-half Danny Cipriani, whose international career is in major doubt.

Cipriani has been in good form for Sale in the Premiership this season but, having missed out on the World Cup team, the 28-year-old has failed to earn a place in Jones' first squad.

"We have selected a squad of players who we think can go to Murrayfield and win. This is our number one priority, to start with a win, so we have picked a squad which is a mix of experience and potential," Eddie Jones said in an RFU news release.

"The long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby, so we have chosen a lot of new players on the growth we see in them. We see these players growing into England players of the future and developing into a side who can be the best in the world. Our aim is to develop a squad where there is depth and competition in every position.

"I have spoken to some of the players who have not been selected. Naturally they will be disappointed and that is how it should be. They know what they need to do to get back into this squad. The door is not shut for anyone. There is no such thing as a shut door because of injuries and loss of form. There will always be opportunities to anyone playing consistently well in the Premiership and Europe.

"We will be without Manu Tuilagi for the Scotland game but we will continue to work with Leicester Tigers and Manu and see where he is as the Six Nations progresses. With big European weekends ahead there may be further changes once we assess the fitness of the players.

Among the new faces are Sale number eight Josh Beaumont, son of former England captain Bill, and exciting Wasps back Elliot Daly.

Ollie Devoto (Bath), Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs), Paul Hill (Northampton), and Maro Itoje (Saracens) and Jack Clifford (Harlequins) are the other new faces.


Squad in full: 

Forwards: Josh Beaumont, Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jack Clifford, Jamie George, Dylan Hartley, James Haskell, Paul Hill, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Matt Kvesic, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Matt Mullan, Chris Robshaw, Henry Thomas, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola 

Backs: Chris Ashton, Mike Brown, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Alex Goode, Sam Hill, Jonathan Joseph, Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson, Marland Yarde, Ben Youngs