England have called up Semesa Rokoduguni to their squad for the RBS 6 Nations as cover for Chris Ashton.
With Saracens having until Monday afternoon to appeal the 10-week ban issued to Chris Ashton for making contact with the eye area of Ulster centre Luke Marshall, head coach Eddie Jones has opted to summon Rokoduguni to the Red Rose training camp.
Rokoduguni, who last week signed a new two-year deal at Bath, won his solitary cap against New Zealand in 2014 before falling out of favour under the previous regime.
If Saracens decline to appeal or their effort to contest Ashton’s ban fails, the 28-year-old Fijian-born flyer will compete with Anthony Watson, Jack Nowell and Marland Yarde for the two wing berths.
England’s Six Nations squad gathered at their Surrey training base on Sunday night with Leicester’s contingent due to arrive on Monday morning following their Champions Cup match against Stade Francais in Paris.
Jones, once he has discussed the matter with his senior players, is expected to name Dylan Hartley as his captain on Monday
Outlining England’s schedule for the week, Jones said: “We’ll have a small chat about where we need to go and then we’ll get on with it. We’re not going to talk too much, we’re going to do.
“There are some clear things we need to address in the team, areas of how we want to play, how we want to operate, but it won’t be a grand address. I’m too old for powerpoints. It will be whiteboard.
“Monday will be installation day, very slow-paced, just organisational. Tuesday we’ll have a pretty good hit-out.
“Wednesday is recovery and Friday is at Twickenham, where we’ll have a really good attacking session. Saturday will be organisational.”
England head coach Eddie Jones has told Chris Ashton he must accept responsibility for the ban that has ruled him out of the entire RBS 6 Nations.
Saracens are deciding whether to appeal the 10-week suspension incurred for making contact with the eye or eye area of Ulster centre Luke Marshall in the first half of Saturday’s 33-17 Champions Cup victory.
The 28-year-old grabbed Marshall around the neck and pulled him to the ground with his hands sliding over the Ireland centre’s face. Marshall complained about the contact and upon reviewing the incident referee Jerome Garces awarded a penalty.
EXCLUSIVE: Eddie gives us the lowdown on Jonny Wilkinson, George Smith and Chris Ashton. https://t.co/cnDuhFR3sx— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) January 20, 2016
The citing officer subsequently lodged a complaint that has been upheld by an independent disciplinary hearing and Saracens have 72 hours until after the written judgement is received to decide whether to lodge an appeal.
“Chris has got to take responsibility for it. Is the suspension too hard? No. That’s the suspension he’s got. One-hundred per cent the onus is on him to make sure he doesn’t get into that position,” Jones said.
“But I am disappointed for him. He was a player in our squad. He’s been playing well this season and it looks like he has been working hard. He’s got that enthusiasm to get the ball and has been one of the form players in the Premiership.
“He has a real sniff for the try line and that is a skill in itself. It’s a set-back. Everyone has set-backs and it’s about how hard he fights back now. He has to serve his time, come back, make sure he is looking after his fitness, his speed and his skills and make sure he comes back in good fettle.
“If he is back on the field and playing well then he will be available for selection again. I’m very disappointed for him and disappointed for the team, but we move on.”
Jones will announce Ashton’s replacement in the Elite Player Squad only once the appeal process is completed.
It is a savage blow for Ashton, who had fought his way back into the England squad after falling out of favour under the previous regime because of his perceived defensive frailties.
He has spent the previous 18 months in international exile but had been earmarked to start on the right wing against Scotland on February 6 and his absence robs England of their deadliest finisher, who has crossed 19 times in 39 Tests.
Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks)
The impressive number eight has flourished since making his Sharks debut in a European Cup game against
Montpellier while still studying at Durham University. Consistent in all areas.
Jack Clifford (Harlequins)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
One of the most exciting players in English rugby. A blistering attacker, strong defender and reliable goalkicker, it would be no surprise if the 23-year-old made it into England’s starting line-up v Scotland.
Ollie Devoto (Bath)
The 22-year-old has quickly developed into an integral part of Bath’s squad, despite the midfield presence of players like Jonathan Joseph and Kyle Eastmond. Has been a key player for the England Under-20s in
Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs)
Enjoyed a successful career with England Under-20s and helped them to world title glory in 2013. The
centre is a powerful runner with an eye for a gap and will relish his England senior squad opportunity.
Paul Hill (Northampton Saints)
Born in Germany, the prop was a Junior World Championship winner in 2014, having been capped at Under-16, 17 and 18 level. A strong scrummager and lively in the loose, he appears to be an impressive all-round
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
A former England under-17 international shot putter, he made his senior Saracens debut as a 19-year-old and captained England to Junior World Championship glory in 2014. Is viewed by many as a senior England skipper-in-waiting.