Marler back to face Australia but Kruis left out
Prop returns for England after ban is challenged Simmonds benefits as Saracens lock sent home
Joe Marler has been fast-tracked back into the England squad to face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday after completing his threeweek ban for striking, although, surprisingly, there is no place for Saracens lock George Kruis.
Kruis, who started in the victory against Argentina on Saturday, has been left out of a 25-man squad – a decision understood to have been based partly on conditioning reasons and partly on form.
The omission of Alex Lozowski, whose break created the decisive try for Semesa Rokoduguni against Argentina, also appears to suggest that Owen Farrell will be involved this weekend after being rested, along with Maro Itoje, because of Lions’ commitments.
Farrell is one of only three squad members who can play in the flyhalf or inside-centre position in the training squad retained at England’s training camp in Bagshot. Kruis and Lozowski were among nine released to their clubs.
The decision to leave out Kruis represents another frustrating setback in an injury-disrupted year for the 27-year-old, who had been one of the foundation stones of the England side under Eddie Jones until he lost his place in the British and Irish Lions Test side following the opening defeat by New Zealand.
Kruis’s omission has allowed Jones to retain Sam Simmonds, who made his Twickenham debut following the injury to Tom Curry, and his Exeter team-mate Charlie Ewels in an extended squad. Marler is guaranteed to be in the 23-man match-day squad as one of six props named after Ellis Genge was released back to Leicester. His ban for hitting Wasps’ Will Rowlands with his arm during a Champions Cup match last month had initially ruled him out of England’s Tests against Argentina and Australia.
However, the Harlequins loosehead prop was able to rejoin Jones’s squad on Sunday night after his club successfully challenged the terms of his suspension.
Marler, whose scrummaging technique was questioned by the Wallabies during the 2015 World Cup, is now due to win his 52nd cap, and the 27-year-old’s return will bring welcome experience to the forward contest.
The disciplinary appeal hearing ruled he was free to return to play on Monday, after the LV Cup match against Saracens was taken into account. Marler had been left out of the England squad that travelled to Portugal for a warm-weather training camp. With Kruis returning to Saracens, the door has opened for Simmonds to retain his place in the match-day squad.
Jonny May, the Leicester wing, is likely to be involved after recovering from a hamstring injury. He could be named in a new-look back three, with Mike Brown struggling to be fit after sustaining a head injury in the victory over Argentina.
Brown will stay in camp, despite the Harlequins full-back being unlikely to appear on Saturday as he goes through concussion protocols, with Anthony Watson poised to switch to full-back.
Itoje is also expected to return to action, but Jones is not expected to finalise his starting line-up until after today’s double training session.
Other players who have been released back to their clubs are Tom Dunn, Piers Francis, Nick Isiekwe, Lozowski, Zach Mercer, Marcus Smith and Denny Solomona.
Chris Robshaw, the England flanker, is expecting an increase in urgency in the squad after the disappointing performance against Argentina. “Whenever a side like that [Australia] comes to town it will always be a challenge,” he said.
“You look at the series down there, it’s always a tough game no matter who comes out on top. There’s always only a handful of points between the sides.”
Missing out: George Kruis has lost his place for reasons relating both to fitness and form