Uncapped Bath back Ruaridh McConnochie is the surprise name included in England’s (9/2 to win World Cup) World Cup squad with a number of high-profile players missing out.
The 27-year-old’s inclusion in Eddie Jones’ 31-man squad for the tournament in Japan caps a remarkable rise given he only joined Bath at the start of last season after converting from sevens rugby.
McConnochie has been rewarded after a strong end to the Premiership season with Bath, but it is perhaps the names that have not been included in the squad that will be drawing the biggest headlines.
Experienced Worcester Warriors star Ben Te’o is one such player as he has not been named as one of the four centres, with his omission perhaps being influenced following a recent altercation with Mike Brown.
Brown has also been left out of the squad, as has former captain Dylan Hartley and Premiership player of the year Danny Cipriani, while Brad Shields has been unable to recover sufficiently from a foot injury.
Flanker Lewis Ludlam, hooker Jack Singleton and scrum-half Willi Heinz made their debuts in Sunday’s World Cup warm-up win over Wales and have all been included in the final squad.
England’s World Cup campaign starts against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22. Jones has urged the players that missed out on selection to remain prepared because a lot could happen between now and the start of the tournament (Match Betting – England 1/200, Tonga 12/1, tie 33/1).
“A lot of good players have missed out. We feel for them, I feel for them personally,” Jones confirmed.
“But as we know the World Cup is an incredible tournament, where opportunities can present themselves, and all those players who have missed out have been told they have to be ready.
“We have taken the decision to go early (naming the squad) because of what we learned from previous campaigns.
“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.”