In Brief

England name Danny Cipriani and Brad Shields in squad for South Africa tour

New Zealand Rugby hits out at the RFU after Shields’s controversial call-up

England rugby head coach Eddie Jones is including Danny Cipriani and Brad Shields in his 34-man squad for the tour of South Africa next month. 

Wasps star Cipriani returns to the England fold after a three-year absence. He is joined in the travelling party by Billy Vunipola (Saracens), who has recovered from injury, and Newcastle’s Mark Wilson, who last played a Test for England in Argentina in 2017.

New Zealand-born Shields is one of seven uncapped players included by Jones. Ben Earl (Saracens), Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs), Dan Robson (Wasps), Ben Spencer (Saracens), Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks) and Jack Willis (Wasps) will also travel.

As well as player changes, England have announced that Scott Wisemantel will join the squad as an attack consultant. The 48-year-old Australian was recently the backs coach for Montpellier in France. 

Jones: we can create history in South Africa

Eddie Jones believes the South Africa tour will be the “most exciting challenge” for England since 2016. England finished fifth in this year’s Six Nations and will be looking to bounce back. 

“We have an opportunity to create some history next month and win the Test series, something no England side has done before,” he said. “There are a number of players out injured or not selected so it provides a big opportunity for others.

“With three weeks to prepare for the first Test in Johannesburg I am expecting players to come into camp with the right mind-set and we will be looking for them to break the mould in terms of being more assertive and on the front foot in everything we do.”

He added: “We will need to be physically aggressive and tactically smart against the Springboks who we know will be combative and reinvigorated by their new coaching set-up.”

Farrell to captain England

Before they travel to South Africa, England will also take on the Barbarians at Twickenham on 27 May. Dylan Hartley will miss the tour because of concussion so Owen Farrell will be England captain for the three-Test series starting in Johannesburg on 9 June.

Shields call-up is controversial

England’s selection of uncapped flanker Brad Shields hasn’t gone down well in New Zealand, The Guardian reports. 

The Hurricanes captain, who will join the Premiership club Wasps this year, was granted a “special exception” by New Zealand Rugby to release him from the “obligations of his contract”. 

New Zealand Rugby’s Chris Lendrum has hit out at the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and questioned why England “can’t find players within their own country”.

Lendrum said: “We are extremely disappointed that the RFU chose to take this unusual step in seeking this release given that Brad has not yet played rugby in England. It is not a decision we would have made, Brad hasn’t yet played any rugby in the English jurisdiction. It seems highly unusual that they can’t find players within their own country to pick.”

England’s tour of South Africa: squad and fixtures

The 34-man England squad:

  • Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Elliot Daly (Wasps); Nathan Earle (Saracens); Jonny May (Leicester Tigers); Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks); Danny Cipriani (Wasps); Owen Farrell (Saracens, captain); 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: Tom 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); Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs); Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers); Jamie George (Saracens); Joe Marler (Harlequins); Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins); Mako Vunipola (Saracens); Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)
South Africa vs. England fixtures 

All three Test matches will be live on Sky Sports:

  • 9 June: South Africa vs. England (4.05pm, Johannesburg) 
  • 16 June: South Africa vs. England (4.05pm, Bloemfontein) 
  • 23 June: South Africa vs. England (4.05pm, Cape Town)

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