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Jones tells axed quartet of stars to regain form for World Cup

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England’s No8 Billy Vunipola, who is one of five senior players axed from England’s squad for the November internationals, takes part in an England team training session on February 24. POOL/AFP

Jones tells axed quartet of stars to regain form for World Cup

England coach Eddie Jones warned a quartet of senior internationals dropped from his first squad of the Autumn to rediscover their best form or risk missing out on the 2023 World Cup.

Jones has omitted Billy and MakoVunipola, Jamie George and George Ford from a 45-man training group that will gather on Sunday for a brief camp ahead of Tests against Tonga, Australia and South Africa in November.

It is the most radical removal of seasoned veterans of the Jones era with Ford, an occasional captain during the Australian’s six years in charge, emerging as the biggest casualty.

Elliot Daly is also missing but his absence is explained by an operation to repair a fractured shin that means he will miss the entire autumn.

Other seasoned campaigners such as Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, MaroItoje, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Marler, Jonny May and Anthony Watson have survived the cull.

Two years out from the World Cup, Jones said he was looking to the future after a disappointing year.

England finished second bottom of the Six Nations, losing to Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

“For those players the door is not closed, it’s just an opportunity for them to refresh and refocus,” Jones said.

“They need to get back to their best. They probably haven’t been at their best over the last period of time, so we are giving them the opportunity to find their best.

“They’re all good players. When they are at their best, they are going to be in strong contention. But there’s a lot of good young players coming through so the competition is hot.

“We are now selecting with the World Cup in mind. Almost after the Lions tour you draw bit of a line in the sand because then you’re in the last two years before the World Cup and everything you do counts.”

Among the eight uncapped players is Louis Lynagh, son of Australian legend Michael Lynagh.

The Harlequins winger is also eligible for Australia and Italy, where he was born during his father’s time playing with Treviso.

“Louis has had a string of solid performances now. He’s got good acceleration, good power and he finds the line. He’s got to find the ball a bit more and we’ve chatted about that,” Jones said of the 20-year-old.

“He’s got youth and that enthusiasm to improve. Based on his performances for Harlequins, he deserves to be looked at, so we will look at him.”

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