Saints pair picked for England training squad as Six Nations preparations start

Piers Francis has been named in England's training squad (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Piers Francis has been named in England's training squad (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Saints duo Piers Francis and Dylan Hartley have been named in England's training squad for a two-day camp in Brighton.

A total of 34 players will assemble on January 1 as England begin their preparations for the Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on February 4.

Courtney Lawes will not be part of the group as he misses out due to personal reasons.

Bath's 23 year-old prop Beno Obano and Newcastle Falcons' openside flanker Gary Graham have received their first call ups into the England squad.

England boss Eddie Jones said: “This camp in Brighton is important for us to set the tone as a squad ahead of the Six Nations.

"We will need to improve if we are to hunt down our opponents and beat them.

"This tournament will be exciting and challenging, as we know we will play against some very strong teams.

“Brighton will provide a great base to begin our preparations with players coming away with a clear plan for our opening match of the campaign against Italy.”

England's squad for the Six Nations will be announced on Thursday, January 18 before the squad departs for a week’s training camp in Portugal three days later.

England has won the past two tournaments, including the Grand Slam in 2016.

England training squad for Brighton camp

Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Nathan Earle (Saracens), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Piers Francis (Saints), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Jamie George (Saracens), Gary Graham (Newcastle Falcons), Dylan Hartley (Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby), Beno Obano (Bath Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)