Fijian soldier wins England call-up

Semesa Rokoduguni
Semesa Rokoduguni
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Semesa Rokoduguni, the Fijian soldier who fought in Afghanistan with the British Army, is among three uncapped players named in England’s 33-man squad for the 2014 QBE Internationals against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia.

Chris Robshaw will, once again, captain the side in the four-game series at Twickenham but there are some surprise omissions with no place for in-form Sale Sharks fly-half Danny Cipriani.

Saracens winger Chris Ashton has been dropped by head coach Stuart Lancaster - to make way for the powerful Bath man Rokoduguni who has scored six tries in seven games this year - and Freddie Burns has also been omitted.

The other newcomers are Saracens lock George Kruis and Northampton Saints flanker Calum Clark, who started his career with Leeds Carnegie.

The squad will meet up at Pennyhill Park on Sunday to prepare for the opening clash with the All Blacks on November 8 ahead of the other Tests taking place on consecutive Saturdays.

Bath centre Jonathan Joseph is included with Manu Tuilagi injured, and swells the number of in-form Bath representatives to seven.

Ex-Leeds loanee George Ford is among those from the West Country club as one of three options at fly- half alongside Owen Farrell and Stephen Myler.

Lancaster defended the omission of Cipriani from his squad.

“If you look at the objective stats, the player with the best skills execution is Stephen Myler and I think he deserves his chance,” he said.

“Owen (Farrell) hasn’t played as much but his inclusion is merited on what he has done for us in the past.”

Asked about Bath’s recent failed attempt to sign Steffon Armitage from Toulon, Lancaster said: “If it had happened it would have been great, although Steffon would have had to work hard to get into our squad.

“It hasn’t happened which is a shame. Now we will have to see how it plays out.”

There could yet be further additions to the squad and Lancaster added: “The first six rounds of the Premiership and opening round of European action have given us plenty to think about as coaches with a lot of players putting their hand up for selection and we are excited by the options available to us.

“We are still monitoring a number of players injury-wise and with another intensive round of European games to come, including the Wasps-Harlequins and Sale-Clermont games on Sunday, there are likely to be additions to the squad after the weekend as we move into the training camp and towards the games - so there is plenty to be decided before the New Zealand match comes around.

“We have four quality sides coming to Twickenham for this QBE Internationals series and we are really looking forward to playing at home in front of our passionate supporters as we continue the build up to the World Cup in 12 months’ time.”

Having recovered from the knee injury that kept him out of the tour to New Zealand, young Exeter Chiefs wing Jack Nowell returns to the fold, while back-rowers James Haskell (Wasps) and Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby) are also rewarded for fine domestic form.

England Senior Squad (33)

Loose-head props: Joe Marler (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (Wasps) Tight-head props: Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), David Wilson (Bath Rugby) Hookers: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) Locks: Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)

Back-rows: Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints) Scrum-halves: Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers) Fly-halves: Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints) Centres: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)

Back-threes: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby), Marland Yarde (Harlequins)

The following players will not be available for the 2014 QBE Internationals: Alex Corbisiero (shoulder), Dan Cole (neck), Tom Croft (knee), Tom Johnson (neck), Geoff Parling (concussion), Chris Pennell (groin), Ed Slater (knee), Mako Vunipola (knee), Tom Youngs (shoulder).