Billy Vunipola returns to England squad for Australia tour alongside eight uncapped players
Billy Vunipola named in Eddie Jones' 36-player squad for three-Test series against Australia live on Sky Sports Action on Saturday, July 16 from 10:55am; Vunipola last featured for England in the 2021 Six Nations; Eight uncapped players included but Joe Marler misses out
Last Updated: 23/06/22 10:34am
Billy Vunipola has been recalled to the England squad by Eddie Jones for the summer tour of Australia, alongside eight uncapped players.
Injuries to No 8s Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds have opened the door for Vunipola to make his first international appearance since last year's Six Nations.
The 29-year-old had not appeared in an England squad until Jones named his 36-man touring party to face the Wallabies over three Tests, starting in Perth on July 2, with all the games live on Sky Sports.
Vunipola was knocked out in the closing stages of Saturday's Gallagher Premiership final defeat by Leicester and a day later Jones suggested he would not be able to tour because of the head injury.
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"He needed to find his best," said Jones of Vunipola. "He was a bit up and down in the last Six Nations he played with us.
"I asked him to go away and find his best. Consistently for Saracens, he's been close to that. He was exceptional in the final. He looked like a Test No 8."
Joe Marler and Premiership player of the year Ben Earl are notable absentees from the group that will depart for Australia on Tuesday, but veteran scrum-half Danny Care is present as he nudges closer to winning his first cap since 2018.
London Irish's 19-year-old sensation Henry Arundell has been included after missing Sunday's rout by the Barbarians because of a muscle strain, although he has been denoted as an 'apprentice player' along with club team-mate Will Joseph.
Uncapped players Fraser Dingwall, Tommy Freeman, Guy Porter, Patrick Schickerling, Jack van Poortvliet and Jack Walker are also selected.
Jones, who will not announce his captain until the team is chosen for the first Test, said: "Though we have 10 players unavailable due to injury, we have picked a very strong squad capable of winning the series. This squad is a real mix of young, talented players and some very experienced, senior players and we're looking forward to bring the group together.
"This tour will be a great experience for the group and a crucial part of the team's work towards the Rugby World Cup in 2023. We will continue to develop the base of the squad and how we want to play.
"We've put a lot of work into preparation for the tour over the past few weeks but now the hard work really begins when we finally get the squad on the plane and to Australia."
England's injury list
Alex Dombrandt, Joe Cokanasiga, George Ford, Sam Simmonds, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Kyle Sinckler, Anthony Watson, Louis Lynagh and George Furbank are all unavailable through injury
After their series opener in Perth, England will face Australia in Brisbane and Sydney on July 9 and 16 respectively.
England scored a series whitewash over the Wallabies when they last toured Australia in 2016.
England's 36-player squad for Australia tour
Forwards: Ollie Chessum, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Joe Heyes, Jonny Hill, Nick Isiekwe, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Bevan Rodd, Patrick Schickerling, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Jack Walker, Jack Willis.
Backs: Henry Arundell (apprentice player), Danny Care, Joe Cokanasiga, Fraser Dingwall, Owen Farrell, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Will Joseph (apprentice player), Joe Marchant, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Guy Porter, Harry Randall, Jack van Poortvliet, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward.
Smith and Farrell set to combine against Wallabies
Jones plans to unleash Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell against Australia after an injury to the latter denied him the chance to develop their partnership during the past 12 months.
Farrell played alongside Smith during last November's win over Australia but the pair have not played together since, Farrell suffering injuries to both ankles, one of which required surgery.
"We want Owen to come back and have three brilliant Tests," Jones told Sky Sports News.
"It's a long time since he played for England. He's in great form for his club, he's physically good so we want him to really impose himself in Test rugby.
"We feel Marcus at 10 and Owen at 12 would give us our best attacking options, particularly with Owen's ability to play through the line and a strong kicking game. With Marcus' off-the-ball skills, we feel that's going to be a good combination."
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July 2, 2022, 10:15am
Smith could be partnered at half-back by Harlequins team-mate Danny Care, who is one of three scrum-halves included in the touring party, almost four years after winning the last of his 84 caps.
Care will be 36 by the time next year's Rugby World Cup comes around but Jones has been impressed by his form and physical condition.
"He's played well for his club and the way the game is played at the moment with quick ruck ball, there's no-one better than him at keeping oppositions on the back foot," said Jones.
"That's really brought out the strengths in his game. He's always been a dynamic running half and the opportunities to run are more now.
"Is he too old to be a part of my World Cup plans? We don't have to worry about that yet. Age is important but just watching him train this week, he's in great physical nick."