Joseph, Kruis, Sinckler and Haskell out of England camp
JONATHAN JOSEPH was among four British and Irish Lions dropped yesterday for England’s latest training camp, with Eddie Jones con- firming that form influenced his decision.
Joseph, George Kruis, Kyle Sinckler and James Haskell toured New Zealand during the summer as part of Warren Gatland’s squad but are missing from the 33 players picked for a three-day gathering in Oxford ahead of the autumn series against Argentina, Australia and Samoa.
Joseph has been a mainstay of England’s midfield since establishing himself as an international in 2015 and has missed only one of Jones’s 20 matches in charge, against Italy in this year’s Six Nations.
The 26-year-old Bath centre scored a hat-trick against Scotland at Twickenham in the same competition but having been unable to force his way into the Lions Test team, he has now been overlooked by Jones.
Kruis has endured an injury-hit start to the season after being struck by an ankle problem and Haskell has just returned from hand surgery, but Sinckler has been playing for Harlequins and his absence is unexpected.
Jones warned against reading too much into his selection while conceding that some players had lost ground during the first three rounds of the Premiership.
“This is a training squad for Oxford and we will assess selection for Argentina farther down the track,” Jones said.
“For each of the Lions players we will assess them and are chatting to their clubs, looking at their club form and looking at them mentally and physically to see what is best for them.
“If things change then there’s the possibility they could be in the squad for the Argentina game. Some guys need to work on their games. We’ve had those discussions with them.
“Other guys are coming back from injuries and I don’t think they’ll benefit from being with the England squad at the moment.
“This is a training squad, it’s the players I want to look at at the moment. I wouldn’t jump at shadows.”
Jones refused to enter the furore stirred up this week by Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien over the quality of the Lions’ coaching team in New Zealand, even if discarding four of their players could be viewed as another setback for Gatland.
The Kiwi and his assistants have been defended by the Lions’ hierarchy but Billy Vunipola — who missed the tour because of a shoulder injury — added his voice to the debate by stating that the All Blacks would have lost 3-0 had Jones been at the helm.
“The Lions are a one off, it’s the magical mystery tour. Whatever comments were made about the Lions tour doesn’t concern us,” Jones said.