England coach Eddie Jones has axed his trusted centre Ben Te'o from the 31-man squad for the World Cup
Bristol (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Ben Te’o was a shock omission from England’s 31-man squad for the 2019 World Cup in Japan announced by coach Eddie Jones on Monday.
New Zealand-born Te’o lost out to Piers Francis among four England centres, despite being an ever-present choice under Australian boss Jones when available.
The 32-year-old was reported to have been involved in a scuffle with Mike Brown at the England squad’s training camp in Italy a fortnight ago.
And now the 18-times capped midfielder, who also has two British and Irish Lions Test appearances to his credit, has failed to make the World Cup squad.
By contrast uncapped former sevens specialist Ruaridh McConnochie was included following the wing’s strong end to the season for Bath.
Scrum-half Willi Heinz, flanker Lewis Ludlam and hooker Jack Singleton, who all made their debuts in Sunday’s 33-19 World Cup warm-up defeat of Wales, were also selected.
But Brad Shields was left out as the New Zealand-born back-row forward continues his recovery from the foot injury he incurred during the training camp in Treviso.
Owen Farrell – who did not play on Sunday – has retained the captaincy, with the Saracens star one of two fly-halves along with George Ford.
As expected, there was no place for playmaker Danny Cipriani, long out of favour with Jones.
Meanwhile former captain Dylan Hartley was omitted following the hooker’s long-term absence through concussion and then a knee injury.
The squad features just two out-and-out scrum-halves in first-choice Ben Youngs and Heinz.
- ‘Good players have missed out’ -
Eddie Jones keeping a close eye on his players during Sunday's 33-19 win over Wales
“A lot of good players have missed out,” said Jones. “We feel for them, I feel for them personally…all those players who have missed out have been told they have to be ready.”
England have won the men’s World Cup just once, when they beat an Australia side coached by Jones in the 2003 final in Sydney.
Former Australia and Japan coach Jones has named his squad nearly a month ahead of World Rugby’s September 8 deadline.
England also still have three remaining warm-up fixtures – a return clash against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday followed by matches against Ireland and Italy.
Jones, who took over as England coach following their embarrassing-first round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup, said that experience had played a part in announcing the squad early.
“We have taken the decision to go early because of what we learnt from previous campaigns,” he said.
“We want the squad to know early and now we can get on and be the best prepared England side there has ever been, ready to win the World Cup.”
England begin their 2019 World Cup pool campaign against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22.
England World Cup squad:
Back three: Joe Cokanasiga (Bath), Elliot Daly (Saracens), Jonny May (Leicester), Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Anthony Watson (Bath)
Centres: Piers Francis (Northampton), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Henry Slade (Exeter), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester)
Fly-halves: Owen Farrell (Saracens, capt), George Ford (Leicester)
Scrum-halves: Willi Heinz (Gloucester), Ben Youngs (Leicester)
Back row/second row: Tom Curry (Sale), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton), Sam Underhill (Bath), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mark Wilson (Newcastle/Sale)
Front rows: Dan Cole (Leicester), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), Ellis Genge (Leicester), Jamie George (Saracens), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Jack Singleton (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
England World Cup Pool Fixtures
Sep 22: v Tonga, Sapporo
Sep 26: v USA, Kobe
Oct 05: v Argentina, Tokyo
Oct 12: v France, Yokohama