Six Nations

Uncapped Odogwu and Randall in England squad for Six Nations

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England coach Eddie Jones
England coach Eddie Jones
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Uncapped backs Paolo Odogwu and Harry Randall were both included in reigning champions England's 28-man squad for the Six Nations Championship announced on Friday.

Odogwu has impressed at centre and wing for Wasps this season.

The 23-year-old could also represent Italy through his father but that option will be closed if England coach Eddie Jones caps Odogwu during the Six Nations.

Scrumhalf Randall, also 23, has ben in fine form with Bristol.

It is the first time the two backs have been included in an England squad and their selection comes despite Jones being restricted to picking only 28 players as part of increased Covid-19 safety measures.

"They've both got something a little bit different about them," Jones told a conference call after announcing his squad.

"We've been watching Harry for a long time now, at least two seasons. He continues to develop his game and his running and his initiative in attack is the thing that's really caught the eye."

As for worries Randall, who grew up in the Amman Valley, might have opted for Wales instead, Jones said: "There are a lot of guys out there who have options to play for a number of countries but we want players who want to play for England and he had no hesitation that he wanted to play for England."

'X-factor'

Turning to Odugwu, the veteran Australian coach, who guided England to a runners-up finish at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, said: "He's got power, got a bit of an X-factor in power. We're looking for another centre or winger who has that and he's been consistently dynamic in being able to break lines."

Experienced prop Kyle Sinckler, suspended for England's opener at home to Scotland on February 6 after swearing at a referee, has not been included in either the main squad or a shadow group of 12 players.

But he could return after his ban ends on 9 February.

Jones, who again chose centre cum flyhalf Owen Farrell as his captain, has been having to self-isolate after after forwards chief Matt Proudfoot tested positive for the coronavirus.

Jones will miss the first day of his squad's pre-tournament camp at St George's Park, the England football team's training base.

But Jones, who said Proudfoot was "progressing", insisted: "It hasn't been disruptive, not one iota.

"In terms of the camp, I'll ony miss the first day where we were just going to have meetings anyway, so again I will be able to participate in those meetings.

"Most of the communications these days are done by Zoom so it's been no disruption at all."

Of arguably greater concern amid the fall-out from a new, more transmissible strain of Covid-19 in Britain and Ireland, is whether the 2021 Six Nations goes ahead as scheduled.

This month's final two rounds of European club rugby were suspended after the French government effectively barred competing French clubs from cross-border travel because of virus fears.

Were a similar ban apply to the French national side, it could prevent the Six Nations from taking place in its current February and March slot.

"That's the administrators role, not mine," said Jones. "I don't have anything to do with that. We just take everything as it comes, every day as it comes."

England squad

Backs: Elliot Daly (Saracens), Owen Farrell (Saracens, capt), George Ford (Leicester), Ollie Lawrence (Worcester), Max Malins (Bristol), Jonny May (Gloucester), Paolo Odogwu (Wasps), Harry Randall (Bristol) Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter), Anthony Watson (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), Tom Curry (Sale), Ben Earl (Bristol), Ellis Genge (Leicester), Jamie George (Saracens), Jonny Hill (Exeter), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Beno Obano (Bath), Will Stuart (Bath), Sam Underhill (Bath), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter), Mark Wilson (Newcastle)

Fixtures (all times South African)

6 February: v Scotland, Twickenham, London (18:45)

13 February: v Italy, Twickenham (16:15)

24 February: v Wales, Principality Stadium, Cardiff (18:45)

13 March: v France, Twickenham (18:45)

20 March: v Ireland, Lansdowne Road, Dublin (18:45)

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