Cape Town - England head coach Eddie Jones has praised the depth of his options after naming his 37-man squad for a pre-season training camp.
The three-day camp at the Lensbury Hotel will take place from Saturday, 5 August and with two years to go until the Rugby World Cup in Japan, it is another important meeting for the squad to reconnect ahead of the Series in the autumn.
It will be the first time Jones has had his squad together since the successful two-Test tour of Argentina in the summer and will allow the squad to be assessed before the Premiership season resumes at the start of September.
“I think the Argentina tour definitely allowed us to develop the squad,” said Jones.
“There were some players that came through that we knew about but probably didn’t realise were as close to being real contenders for a World Cup squad.
“We’ve got two years until the World Cup so the next 18 months is crucial in finalising our squad. We’re probably 75% down the road.”
Manu Tuilagi will join up with the England squad having last played for his country during the 2016 Six Nations.
The Leicester Tigers centre missed the majority of last season through injury but Jones hopes to see him on the international stage again.
“It’s nice to see him back training and back into it. He was a player who demolished New Zealand.
“If his motivation and desire is right then he can be an outstanding player for us and add to the depth of the squad."
Dan Cole, Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Jack Nowell, Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson will spend one day in camp while the other British & Irish Lions players have opted to remain on their summer break.
However, some of the players that took part in the Lions tour this summer will be rested for the three-Test Series in consultation with players and clubs.
“It was part of the regulations and we left it up to the players if they wanted to come in,” added Jones.
“There are ongoing discussions about that, we’ll look at each player and see how they come back and what condition they’re in. We’ll talk to their club coaches and work out who needs to play and who doesn’t.
“For the young players at the camp it is going to be a great opportunity for them to put down a marker early.”
Of the 11 players that won their first caps during England’s 2-0 series win in Argentina, nine have been called up again, including: Tom Curry, Piers Francis, Nick Isiekwe, Alex Lozowski, Jack Maunder, Denny Solomona, Sam Underhill, Harry Williams and Mark Wilson.
A new face is 18-year-old Harlequins fly half Marcus Smith, who spent time at England’s training camp in Brighton at the end of last season and was part of the England U20s 2017 Six Nations Grand Slam winning squad.
“He’s a good little player, takes the ball to the line, a good pass selection, good running skills and a tough little guy," stated Jones.
“We need another young stand off and we want one putting pressure on George and Owen, he’s the best one we’ve seen so far.”
Despite changes to his squad, Jones has the same expectations when Argentina, Australia and Samoa visit Twickenham in November.
“Our goal is to win 3-0; regardless of what team we put out there I expect us to win 3-0.”
England training camps:
Sunday 24 - Tuesday 26 September: training camp, Oxford
Sunday 29 October - Friday 3 November: training camp, Portugal
Autumn International Series
Saturday 11 November: England v Argentina
Saturday 18 November: England v Australia
Saturday 25 November: England v Samoa