Eddie Jones looks set to select a sprinkling of uncapped talent – and leave out some established names – when his first England elite player squad is announced on Wednesday.
It’s understood the 33-man group will include exciting newcomers like Wasps centre Elliot Daly, Saracens forward Maro Itoje and Harlequins flanker Jack Clifford.
Exeter back Sam Hill and Sale Sharks number eight Josh Beaumont – son of England’s 1980 Grand Slam captain Bill Beaumont – are also thought to have made an impression on Jones.
Although injuries will impact selection – Henry Slade, Jonny May, Dave Attwood, Ed Slater and Kieran Brookes are among those sidelined for some, or all, of this season’s Six Nations Championship – head coach Jones has also left his own mark.
World Cup squad members Brad Barritt, Tom Wood, Joe Marler, Geoff Parling and Richard Wigglesworth could all miss out as Jones builds towards the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6.
While no announcement will be made regarding the England captaincy on Wednesday – it is set to be in a fortnight’s time – Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley remains favourite for the role, replacing World Cup leader Chris Robshaw, but Robshaw will remain an integral part of Jones’ plans.
And there is likely to be a place in the squad for blockbusting Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi, who began his comeback after 15 months out with groin trouble during the Tigers’ thrilling Aviva Premiership victory over Northampton three days ago.
While Tuilagi is some way short of full match fitness and unlikely to be considered for England’s opening Six Nations flurries, his game-breaking quality makes him a pivotal figure, especially building towards a three-Test summer tour to Australia.
Looking ahead to the squad announcement, Jones said: “It’s very exciting.
“There is a lot of good talent in England, and it’s about bringing it through. We’ve got to back a few players, and hopefully they will develop.”
Asked what sort of playing style can be expected from England, Jones added: “We’re going to win.
“When you are coaching a team, you don’t move away from the natural part of the team.
“Successful England teams in the past have always had a good set-piece and a good defence. We want to have those things. We want a really good scrum, so we might bring some of the old blokes back.”