Eight uncapped players in England squad

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The side will have two captains in Owen Farrell and Dylan Hartley and former Hurricanes loose forward Brad Shields is included. The squad will be reduced to 23 on October 30.


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With at least 11 players injured or under suspension changes were forced and former international Will Greenwood said on skysports.com that the situation represented a great chance for younger players to push for places in next year's World Cup squad.

Main interest centred on how Jones would get around the crisis at No.8 where leading contenders Billy Vunipola and Sam Simmonds were injured and out for the series while Nathan Hughes due to suspension.

"The reality is that you don't want both your front line players to be missing – one for injury and one for a citing issue. To lose Billy and Nathan means that you are in numbers three and four – it's going to be difficult but not terminal and it is a cracking opportunity for two men. Ben Morgan who has not played [Tests] for three years and the other kid Zach Mercer.

"Mercer has matured so much over the course of six months from being a nice, young player who was perhaps a loose, sinewy, old school Andy Ripley style No.8 to a big ball-carrying, gain line player who has not lost his ball skills.

"His opportunity has been fast-tracked and the people who will benefit from the missing players are the youngsters like Zach Mercer," he said.

There's no place for Danny Cipriani in the side while mid-fielders Manu Tuilagi and Ben Te'o have recovered from injuries to make the squad.

Fijian wing Joe Cokanasiga, who players for Todd Blackadder's Bath club, has been included and Greenwood expected him to have an impact.

"He is confident and has looked defensively strong – he is going to get some game time this autumn, and I think the rugby playing public will love him," he said.

Jones will be taking the squad to Portugal to prepare for the campaign.

"We have taken a slightly different approach this year. With the World Cup in mind we are going to Portugal in the middle of next week until the Thursday of the Test week so will be back to train at Twickenham the day before we play South Africa. As well as giving the players a different experience it also gives them some rest after their club matches before joining up with England.

"The Portugal camp is about getting the team organised. The players have all been playing in different systems and with different ideas at their clubs so it's about producing a team that is absolutely brutal in the physical contest, as the game demands, and also playing a smart English brand of rugby," he said.

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