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The time for experimenting is over… Which England players are going to the World Cup

The time for experimenting is over… Which England players are going to the World Cup in Japan and who will be sitting at home?

  • Eddie Jones has called up 119 players since he took over as England head coach
  • England may not be Six Nations champions but they have a wealth of talent
  • Seats on the plane are still up for grabs, so here are the main contenders

The time for experimenting is over. In 175 days, after a summer of intense preparations, England will board their flight to Tokyo for a shot at the World Cup. 

Eddie Jones has called up 119 players since he took over as head coach — and at least 88 of those will be left at home.

England may not be Six Nations champions but they have a wealth of talent at their disposal. Seats on the plane are still up for grabs, so here are the main contenders:

England and Scotland players shake hands following a sensational match at Twickenham

England and Scotland players shake hands following a sensational match at Twickenham

England and Scotland players shake hands following a sensational match at Twickenham

BACK THREE

Enough racehorses to fill a stable at Cheltenham, but only five will make the cut. 

Elliot Daly played every minute of the Six Nations and has one hand on the No 15 shirt.

Jonny May is the world’s in-form winger, while Jack Nowell and Joe Cokanasiga have shared the No 14 jersey.

Injured Lion Anthony Watson is worthy of a starting place if fit, leaving Mike Brown, Chris Ashton and Ollie Thorley with ground to make up.

England's Elliot Daly has one hand on the No 15 shirt ahead of this year's World Cup in Japan

England's Elliot Daly has one hand on the No 15 shirt ahead of this year's World Cup in Japan

England’s Elliot Daly has one hand on the No 15 shirt ahead of this year’s World Cup in Japan

MIDFIELD

There have been 15 different centre combinations under Jones and the door-smasher/lock-picker combination of Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade strikes the right balance.

Ben Te’o is likely to provide heavyweight back-up, while Jonathan Joseph has drifted away from the Test scene.

That leaves a potential vacancy for a second lock-picker, although Daly has the skills to step in.

Henry Slade (right) and team-mate Manu Tuilagi work well together in midfield for England

Henry Slade (right) and team-mate Manu Tuilagi work well together in midfield for England

Henry Slade (right) and team-mate Manu Tuilagi work well together in midfield for England

HALF-BACKS

Talk of George Ford’s ability to cover at No 9 has opened up the possibility of a two scrum-half/two fly-half combination, with Ben Youngs and Owen Farrell the incumbent half-backs, with Farrell commanding at No 10.

Dan Robson is now a long-term injury doubt, meaning Ben Spencer, Danny Care or Richard Wigglesworth could be the second No 9.

An injury to Farrell would be devastating and it could possibly result in the return of Danny Cipriani. 

An injury to Owen Farrell would be devastating and it could result in Danny Cipriani returning

An injury to Owen Farrell would be devastating and it could result in Danny Cipriani returning

An injury to Owen Farrell would be devastating and it could result in Danny Cipriani returning 

FRONT ROW

Opting for four half-backs would create space for a sixth prop. Tighthead Kyle Sinckler could become a global star, while Mako Vunipola is the already the premier loosehead. Ellis Genge, Ben Moon, Dan Cole and Harry Williams are next in line, although Beno Obano could make a late charge on his injury comeback. Jamie George is now the star hooker, but Dylan Hartley is targeting a comeback. Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack Singleton will fight it out to hold the tackle bags, while Harry Thacker is in sparkling form.

England levelled the match right at the death as George Ford went under the posts

England levelled the match right at the death as George Ford went under the posts

England levelled the match right at the death as George Ford went under the posts

SECOND ROW

 Not even the Springboks boast the same engine room depth as England. Maro Itoje is the standard-setter, with Courtney Lawes the second standout performer before his injury. George Kruis is the lineout technician, while Joe Launchbury should be the fourth and final choice. Charlie Ewels, Elliot Stooke and Nick Isiekwe all look likely to miss out.

Jonny May scored England's fourth try following some good handling from the home side

Jonny May scored England's fourth try following some good handling from the home side

Jonny May scored England’s fourth try following some good handling from the home side

BACK ROW 

For the first time under Jones, England have a balanced back row in Mark Wilson, Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola. They offer grunt, turnovers and carrying, with strong understudies in Brad Shields and Sam Underhill. Chris Robshaw has drifted out of contention, while No 8 Nathan Hughes still has plenty to prove and could be squeezed out of the 31.

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