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England Rugby World Cup training squad: Hartley, Robshaw and Care out

The Guardian logo The Guardian 20/06/2019 Robert Kitson
Rugby Union - England Training - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 23, 2018   England's Dylan Hartley during training   Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra © Reuters Rugby Union - England Training - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 23, 2018 England's Dylan Hartley during training Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

England have omitted former captains Dylan Hartley and Chris Robshaw from their preliminary training squad for the Rugby World Cup. Senior players Danny Care and Nathan Hughes have also been left out with head coach Eddie Jones opting instead for a clutch of fresh alternatives.

Among the hopeful 11th hour contenders on a list of 29 names are Quins’ powerful back-row forward Alex Dombrandt, the Northampton flanker Lewis Ludlam, the Gloucester prop Val Rapava Ruskin and the Bath wing Ruaridh McConnochie. Jones is not due to confirm his final 31-man RWC squad until August and is currently unable to pick players who featured in the Premiership play-offs.

The absence of Hartley, Robshaw and Care from next week’s initial camp in Bagshot, therefore, is significant. Injuries could yet cause a further reshuffle but Hartley, 33, has not played since December and is still nursing a nagging knee problem. Robshaw, also 33, has been overtaken by Newcastle’s Mark Wilson and Wasps’ Brad Shields while Care, 32, has slipped down the scrum-half pecking order.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18:  Danny Care of England celebrates with team mate Chris Robshaw (L) after scoring a last minute try during the Old Mutual Wealth Series international match between England and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on November 18, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images) © Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Danny Care of England celebrates with team mate Chris Robshaw (L) after scoring a last minute try during the Old Mutual Wealth Series international match between England and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on November 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Between them the trio boast 247 Test caps but if they are not involved in this August’s warm-up Tests their best chance of competing in Japan will be as potential injury cover. Dombrandt, 22, has shot to prominence after an eye-catching first season for Harlequins and scored two tries against the Barbarians earlier this month, Rapava Ruskin is a dynamic tight forward and McConnochie has made an impressive impact at Bath having previously represented England at sevens.

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