England have named their 34-man squad for the 2017 Six Nations. The defending champions, who last year bounced back from World Cup humiliation on home soil to win their first Grand Slam since 2003 – during Eddie Jones' first tournament at the helm – open their title defence against France at Twickenham on Saturday 4 February before facing Wales, Italy, Scotland and Ireland.
Jones' squad has a similar feel to the 33-strong party that attended the latest two-day training camp in Brighton earlier this month, with Wasps lock Joe Launchbury back in the fold after recovering from a calf injury. Leicester Tigers loosehead Ellis Genge also makes the cut, as does versatile Exeter Chiefs playmaker Henry Slade.
Joe Marler is also included, and faces a race against time to be fit for France. The Harlequins prop was initially expected to be sidelined for four to five weeks after suffering a fracture to his lower left leg while warming up prior to the 29-26 Aviva Premiership victory over Sale Sharks, but it has since been reported that he has a 50/50 chance of starting that opening fixture. Matt Mullan or Genge will deputise in his absence with Mako Vunipola recovering from a knee problem.
Captain Dylan Hartley is deemed fit enough despite missing the last six weeks of domestic action following a latest ban for striking, but versatile back-row Josh Beaumont misses out through injury. While not named in the initial squad, Billy Vunipola, who was carted off against Argentina in the autumn with knee ligament damage, will hope to play some part in the later stages of the competition. George Kruis is currently rated as doubtful for France following a fractured cheekbone.
Former skipper Chris Robshaw misses out after undergoing shoulder surgery, while injury-stricken centre Manu Tuilagi will not play again this season after damaging his cruciate knee ligament against Saracens. Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson, Maro Itoje James Haskell, Jack Clifford and Mike Williams are all present after injuries ruled them out of a memorable autumn international series that saw England end a remarkable year unbeaten and also equal their all-time record of 14 consecutive Test victories set by Sir Clive Woodward's World Cup winning vintage.
Along with Williams, Nathan Catt and Alex Lozowski complete a trio of uncapped players. The squad is comprised of 20 forwards and 14 backs.
"This time last year I said that the long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby," Jones said. "Obviously I've been pleased with how the team's progressing, but there's still plenty to improve on. We always want to get better, every training session, every game.
"I've been impressed with the three uncapped players named in the squad. They're all guys who have great physical capabilities and they all have a desire to improve. With a number of injuries to some key players it's a great opportunity for them."
England, who have also appointed visual awareness coach Dr Sherylle Calder to their backroom staff on a consultancy basis, will travel to Portugal for a five-day pre-Six Nations training camp between 22-27 January before returning to their usual base at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot.