Fit again Itoje, Haskell, Watson boost England's Six Nations squad


England's Six Nations squad has been boosted by the return of injured quintet James Haskell, Maro Itoje, Anthony Watson, Jack Clifford and Jack Nowell.

Eddie Jones was bereft of the five players for 2016's November internationals due to injury, but they are all back ahead of England's defence of their Six Nations title.

The quintet make up part of Jones' 34-man squad that also includes three uncapped players - Mike Williams, Nathan Catt and Alex Lozowski all given the chance to impress on the international stage.

Harlequins prop Joe Marler is also included despite suffering a leg fracture on club duty, and his front-row partner Dylan Hartley is expected to retain the captaincy.

There is no place for Sam Underhill despite his impending move to Bath, while Ellis Genge is retained after making his international debut during the 3-0 whitewash against Australia.

"It's good to welcome back a number of players who weren't with us during [November]," said Jones.

"Maro Itoje has done well for his club as has Jack Nowell. James Haskell was magnificent for England last year and is a fierce player. Anthony Watson has been a fine player for England and is one the most prolific try scorers for the number of Tests he has played. 

"We are looking forward to those guys coming in and challenging for a spot and adding strength.

"This time last year I said that the long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby.

"Obviously I've been pleased with how the team's progressing, but there's still plenty to improve on. We always want to get better, every training session, every game.

"At the start of last year's Six Nations I probably didn't realise the enormity of the tournament and how intense the rivalry is between the countries, so this year we'll be better prepared for it and we are looking forward to being daring in our game against France on 4 February."


England squad:

Forwards: Nathan Catt, Jack Clifford, Dan Cole, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Teimana Harrison, Dylan Hartley, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Matt Mullan, Kyle Sinckler, Tommy Taylor, Mike Williams, Tom Wood.

Backs: Mike Brown, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Alex Lozowski, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te'o, Anthony Watson, Marland Yarde, Ben Youngs