A new era of English rugby will begin with the Six Nations. Coach Stuart Lancaster waved farewell to several old faces as he ushered in a fresh-looking squad.
Mike Tindall, Nick Easter and Mark Cueto are among the former stars who no longer feature in Lancaster’s immediate plans. Other senior players including Lewis Moody, Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Thompson have all retired.
In all the 32-man Six Nations squad features 13 changes from the disastrous World Cup campaign, and includes nine uncapped players. With injuries affecting some key players such as Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi, Andrew Sheridan and Louis Deacon, England will start the tournament with a significant lack of experience in the side. Lancaster sees that as an inevitable consequence of rebuilding, with the next World Cup a priority.
"In line with the selection philosophy about starting a new era for English rugby, we have taken the chance to make changes," he said. "We will give players opportunities to be part of the journey towards 2015. We have lost some great players who have worn the England shirt with pride and distinction – Lewis, Steve and Jonny – and we should thank them for all they did."
The new recruits include Saracens players Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt, Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson and the Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall. The inclusion of Phil Dowson and Calum Clark means that Northampton supply eight of Lancaster’s squad.
The Six Nations represents a chance for England to restore a little pride in the rugby team, although the first match is the daunting trip to Murrayfield to face Scotland on 4 February.