England will embark on another Six Nations quest with new faces among their fellowship, while a sea of established stars have been left by the wayside.
Eddie Jonesnamed his squad for the tournament on Tuesday, including no fewer than six potential debutants in Orlando Bailey, Alfie Barbeary, Luke Northmore, Tommy Freeman, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ollie Chessum.
While not all of those selections were too surprising based on current form, Leicester Tigers linchpin George Ford was the most striking name to be omitted from the squad altogether.
England are blessed to be in a position where such a call is even an option, with Ford's performances in recent months enough to at least make him a contender for most top-tier teams.
The surprises didn't end there, however, as Mirror Sport breaks down the most glaring names absent from inclusion, as well as which selections warrant extra attention.
Ford fronts major omissions
Although Ford will take up plenty of room when discussing England's major omissions for this Six Nations, the Tigers talisman barely scratches the surface in regards to the team's absences overall.
With Marcus Smith only five caps deep as an international and captain Owen Farrell still regaining fitness, Ford might have been the ideal alternative at fly-half—but it appears Jones has well and truly moved on.
The same might be said for Vunipola brothers Billy and Mako, neither of whom have done enough at Saracens to win back a place in England's plans, the same said for club team-mates Elliot Daly and Ben Earl.
Those omissions appear purely tactical and based around competition for places, whereas Bath 's Sam Underhill and Sale Sharks centre Manu Tuilagi can hold out hopes they'll be reincorporated later in the tournament.
Both Underhill and Tuilagi figured prominently in the perfect autumn run and each started November's wins over Australia and South Africa, but a lack of fitness prevented their inclusion—at this stage, at least.
Jones told reporters the former was "not quite ready" but could feature later in the Six Nations, with a similar chance that Tuilagi could re-enter his plans for the latter stages of the competition.
“He [Tuilagi] has had a wee setback but we will just have to wait and see what he is up to," said Jones.
"He needs to get some training, needs to play a few games. If we are 100 per cent optimistic we’d say yes (he will feature in the Six Nations). If we are realistic it’s probably about a 50/50.”
Elsewhere, the Leicester pairing of Dan Kelly (centre) and Nic Dolly (hooker) can feel somewhat aggrieved to have missed out given their form at Welford Road this season.
Kelly has the potential to be England's long-term solution at inside centre, while Dolly's exclusion is less controversial given it's Jamie George, Luke Cowan-Dickie and the prolific Jamie Blamire ahead of him.
Newcastle Falcons speedster Adam Radwan has seen his spot among the wing reserves taken by the likes of Ollie Hassell-Collins and Tommy Freeman, each of whom warrant places among the selection.
A special mention for Harlequins prop Will Collier, who looked as though he was on course for a first Test cap in almost five years only to be left out of the tighthead rotation.
Chessum leads surprise inclusions
It's only natural that the crop of newcomers accounts for the most surprising inclusions, but the truth is Jones has called up a very deserving—and therefore not all that shocking—batch of potential debutants.
Of the six new faces, however, Leicester lock Chessum is perhaps the most unassuming as he hopes to become the latest Tigers talent to make their break into the national team set-up.
What doesn't surprise about his call-up is the fact the 6'7" forward perfectly fits Jones' preferred profile to versatile players, having already played in the second row and across the back three this season.
The 21-year-old has played only 22 games for Leicester since rejoining from Nottingham in 2020, but he's the latest example as to just how quickly one can rise up the rugby ranks.
The same could be said of fly-half Bailey, who has weathered the torrential storm that's been Bath's season so far and emerged on the other side with a maiden England call-up.
It's two years since the Dorchester-born playmaker was involved with the Red Rose's under-18s, but even with the far more experienced Ford among his options, Jones has opted to invest in Bailey.
One can understand the logic given Ford is something of a known quantity and Bailey parallels more closely with Smith in his playing style, but it's nonetheless a big call for the former to go overlooked.
As for those already established as internationals, Joe Heyes is on course to add to the two caps he won last summer and has made the step up after making the shadow squad for the 2021 Six Nations.
The 22-year-old tighthead completes a contingent of five Leicester players named among the selection, though his chances of minutes behind Kyle Sinckler and Will Stuart may still be minimal.
Jack Nowell, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to add to his 34 Test caps after a surge in form for Exeter, having not played for his country since the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The 28-year-old has scored just twice in all competitions this season but has helped Exeter overcome a sluggish start, offering a diverse back-three utility who may yet have his best England days ahead of him.
Nowell & Co. will have their chance to feature for England when the Red Rose opens its Six Nations campaign away to Scotland on February 5.
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