Eddie Jones has insisted he does not care about the specifics of Test rugby’s eligibility rules and will pick anyone who qualifies for England.
Gloucester’s Willi Heinz has been drawn into England’s latest training camp, with the New Zealand-born scrum-half qualifying through his grandmother. Heinz represented New Zealand’s under-21s and even played against England for Super Rugby outfit Crusaders in 2014.
World Rugby have extended the residency qualification period to represent a new nation from three to five years to come into effect in 2020, but Jones insisted England will continue to select anyone available — irrespective of background.
“It’s not my job to worry about how they qualify, it’s my job to pick players that qualify,” Jones said. “I don’t care how they qualify, I’ll pick them.
“That’s the rules we play under. I obey them like any good schoolteacher does.”
Fly-half Jason Woodward has also received his first England call-up, as another New Zealand-born half-back included by boss Jones.
Sale’s New Zealand-born wing Denny Solomona represented Samoa in Rugby League, but will tour Argentina with England having already qualified on residency.
England will face the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 28 and must this week do without those stars still involved in the Premiership and European playoffs.
With no players from Saracens, Exeter, Wasps, Leicester or Northampton, Jones has drafted in a raft of youngsters as England continue long-range preparations for next month’s two-Test tour to Argentina.
New Zealand-born Willi Heinz — who played against England for Crusaders in 2014 — has been called up to Eddie Jones’ training squad. David Rogers/Getty Images
Northampton face Connacht in the semifinals of the European Champions Cup qualification playoffs on Saturday. Victory would send Northampton into a final the following weekend, ruling Saints’ England stars out of the Barbarians clash.
Jones admitted England will include the Saints players for the Barbarians match if they fail to see off Connacht — but have already planned to be without them.
Vice-captains George Ford and Mike Brown will be in line to lead the side if skipper and Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley is unavailable.
“All these players have a great attitude, they all want to play for England which is fantastic, and what we want,” said Jones of his latest training squad.
“It’s a great opportunity to work with them, see what they need to do, give them a glimmer of hope and if they don’t play in the BaaBaas game they go back to work a bit harder and they stake a claim for a position.
“We’ve tried to cover a number of contingencies by bringing extra players into this camp.
“It’s a one-off game, and leadership doesn’t happen overnight, but this whole period of time is an ideal opportunity for us to build depth and offer some players, who haven’t had a major senior leadership role to step up, and that’s the advantage.”
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