Eddie Jones insists decision to leave Chris Ashton out of England squad 'easy'
By Paul Vinnell
Last Updated: 23/05/16 8:53am
England coach Eddie Jones insists the decision to leave Chris Ashton out of his squad for the summer tour to Australia was "easy."
Ashton was a surprise omission from the 32-man squad given his try-scoring form for Saracens - he has amassed 10 tries in eight matches since completing his 10-week ban for a neck-roll on Ulster's Luke Marshall that ruled him out of the Six Nations.
Harlequins' Marland Yarde has been preferred as one of three wings.
"It wasn't a tough call to make, it was an easy call to make. Ashton has done well, but there are parts of his game that he needs to work on," Jones said.
"We feel Marland is a player with a lot of growth in him and that's important because we're a young team that is building towards the 2019 World Cup. We want players who are going to grow.
"Chris has scored a lot of tries, but there's a part of the game where you don't have the ball. I've had a chat to Chris about my decision and in my eyes he's not in the top three wings in England."
With Manu Tuilagi a doubt for the tour because of hamstring injury, Leinster's Worcester-bound centre Ben Te'o could have a big part to play.
Te'o will play his final match for Leinster in Saturday's Guinness PRO12 final before joining Worcester, thereby honouring Twickenham's edict on not picking overseas-based players and becoming eligible for the summer tour.
The Auckland-born 29-year-old converted from rugby league to union in 2014 and is seen as a bruising alternative to Tuilagi at inside centre.
"Teo's in the squad so he has a great chance to play if he puts his best foot forward. We'll see how he goes," Jones said.
There are three other uncapped players in the squad - Northampton back-row Teimana Harrison and two young props in Kyle Sinckler of Harlequins and Bristol's Ellis Genge, currently on loan at Leicester.
Sinckler caught Jones' eye during last week's three-day training camp in Brighton held in preparation for the pre-tour Test against Wales on Sunday, while Genge has won admirers during his loan spell at Leicester.
Both are fiery and combative front rows whose temperaments fit Jones' plan to play "bodyline" rugby in Australia, although, as third choice at tighthead and loosehead, they are unlikely to play unless injury strikes.
"It's exciting because we've got two young uncapped props in the squad who are in their early 20s," Jones said.
"They're not ready to play Test rugby scrummaging-wise, but both have potentially Test-rugby competitive edges.
"Both are athletic, can carry the ball, are aggressive and a bit rough. Those are good things for props to have."