LONDON (Reuters) - Danny Cipriani has been recalled to the England squad to tour South Africa next month three years after his last appearance, while New Zealand-based back rower Brad Shields was also included for the three-test tour.
Coach Eddie Jones released his squad on Thursday that included seven new players and included Shields after he was released by the New Zealand rugby union overnight.
Ben Earl (Saracens), Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs), Dan Robson (Wasps), Ben Spencer (Saracens), 18-year-old Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks) and Jack Willis (Wasps) were all given their chance in the face of a series of absentees.
Cipriani is the headline name, forcing his way back into contention after a great season for Wasps.
He won his first cap in 2008 but has won only 14 in all since then, with his last start also coming 10 years ago.
A succession of England coaches have declined to include him, deterred by his reputation for individualism, but Jones has given him a final lifeline.
Brilliantly talented but also too often disruptive, the 30-year-old is leaving Wasps at the end of the season and is currently without a club.
He will travel as third-choice flyhalf behind George Ford and Owen Farrell, who captains the squad in the absence of the injured Dylan Hartley, though Cipriani could also feature at fullback.
“I’ve watched him play closely and he’s done some things I’ve asked him to do in matches and deserves the opportunity,” said Jones, who has picked him for the first time.
“He’s got to prove he’s the best 10 or best 15 in the squad.”
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) is recalled after recovering from injury having last played for England in the 2017 Six Nations. Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) — a year after last featuring for England in the two Test series in Argentina — is also included.
Danny Care (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), James Haskell (Wasps) and Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens) have been rested for the tour.
Jones denied that Shields’ selection reflected badly on the England pathway system which is designed to promote the best young English talent. “That is not my responsibility, it is to pick the best English-qualified players,” said Jones.
New-Zealand born Shields qualifies through his parents, both of whom come from England.
“He’s a good hard working player, he plays for best team in southern hemisphere and is a considerable influence in their team. He’s a gritty player, a great back up to Chris Robshaw for us.”
Jones also confirmed that Australian Scott Wisemantel will join the coaching staff for the tour as an attack consultant.
England, coming off the back of three successive Six Nations defeats, will play South Africa in three Tests in Johannesburg (June 9), Bloemfontein (June 16) and Cape Town (June 23).
“Our tour to South Africa will be the most exciting challenge for us as a group since 2016,” Jones said. “We have an opportunity to create some history next month and win the Test series, something no England side has done before.”
England squad for South Africa Tour:
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
Nathan Earle (Saracens)*
Jonny May (Leicester Tigers)
Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks) Inside backsDanny Cipriani (Wasps)Owen Farrell (Saracens)George Ford (Leicester Tigers)Alex Lozowski (Saracens)Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks) *Dan Robson (Wasps)*Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)Ben Spencer (Saracens)*Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors)Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) Forwards
Back fiveTom Curry (Sale Sharks)Ben Earl (Saracens)*Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs)*Nick Isiekwe (Saracens)Maro Itoje (Saracens) Joe Launchbury (Wasps)Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)Brad Shields (Hurricanes/Wasps)*Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)Billy Vunipola (Saracens)Jack Willis (Wasps)*Mark Wilson (Newcastle) Front rowLuke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers)Jamie George (Saracens)Joe Marler (Harlequins)Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)Mako Vunipola (Saracens)Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs) Uncapped* Not considered for selectionBacksDanny Care (Harlequins)Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby) Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints) Joe Marchant (Harlequins) Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby) Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens) ForwardsJack Clifford (Harlequins) Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby)Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby)Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) James Haskell (Wasps)Nathan Hughes (Wasps)George Kruis (Saracens) Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Will Spencer (Worcester Warriors)Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby)
Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Amlan Chakraborty