27 Oct 2016

Injury-hit England call on Ben Te'o

8:37 am on 27 October 2016

England coach Eddie Jones has called on former NRL star Ben Te'o and New Zealand born Teimana Harrison in a 33-man squad for their end of year internationals - including a keenly anticipated showdown with the Wallabies in December.

The England flanker Teimana Harrison.

The England flanker Teimana Harrison. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Flanker Tom Wood, whose last test appearance came against Uruguay in the World Cup 12 months ago, is the other surprise inclusion in Jones's squad as the coach seeks to deal with a back-row injury crisis.

The 29-year-old was drafted in following a series of injuries that has ruled out 10 players, including five flankers, for the games against South Africa, who England have not beaten for 10 years, Fiji, Argentina and the Wallabies.

That situation has also opened the door for Opotiki born flanker Harrison, who was unceremoniously hauled off by Jones after 29 minutes of the third Test against Australia in June.

There were also recalls for wingers Jonny May and Semesa Rokoduguni, powerful lock Dave Attwood and prop Joe Marler in a 33-man squad that includes six uncapped players.

The uncapped half-dozen are prop Kyle Sinckler, backrower Nathan Hughes, lock Charlie Ewels, wing Mike Haley, five-eighth Alex Lozowski and former Queensland State of Origin enforcer Te'o.

"History shows that when you're preparing for a World Cup you need depth down to four and five in all positions," Jones said.

"(New Zealand's) Stephen Donald was out whitebaiting and kicked the winning goal in a World Cup final wearing a jersey that was too small.

"That's the sort of depth you need. You never like to see players get injured but it presents opportunities for other guys to come forward."

Jones has been publicly critical of both Wood and Harrison but says he has been impressed by how they have responded.

Harrison may be drafted into the troublesome No.7 berth after impressing Jones in Northampton's heavy European Cup defeat by Castres.

"That was the best performance I've seen from a No.7 in a Premiership team," Jones said of a player who probably thought his two-match Test career was over after his June humiliation.

Jones said it remained an option to switch Robshaw back to his previous openside role despite him being a regular blindside since he took over, but added: "He's still our best six."