Uncapped scrum-half Joe Simpson is the biggest winner in an England World Cup squad that doesn’t feature Riki Flutey, Hendrie Fourie or Ugo Monye.
Simpson is included after Danny Care saw his World Cup dream ended by injury and team manager Martin Johnson still decided to take three specialist No9s to New Zealand.
Full back Ben Foden had earlier been tipped to provide cover to Ben Youngs and Richard Wigglesworth at scrum-half, with Simpson having been released from Johnson’s extended squad earlier in the month. But the 23-year-old Wasp is now in line to make his first international appearance in one of England’s pool games against Argentina, Georgia, Romania or Scotland.
Flutey is the biggest omission as Johnson chose to take Mike Tindall, Shontayne Hape, Manu Tuilagi and Matt Banahan as his centre options.
The 31-year-old former New Zealand Maori star won a Lions Test cap two years ago and was expected to kick on to big things with England. But injury and a drop in form saw Flutey become a fringe player for his adopted country and, when he failed to impress in the early August win over Wales – a match in which Tuilagi made a massive impression – his World Cup place was in serious doubt.
Johnson’s decision to take five props – with David Wilson the biggest beneficiary – meant he needed to cut numbers elsewhere. The ex Lions skipper selected just four centres, two fly-halves and five back rowers for the tournament, with Sale flanker Fourie missing out to Lewis Moody, Tom Wood, James Haskell, Tom Croft and Nick Easter.
Monye also misses out as Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton are named as the only wingers in the squad, although Banahan and Delon Armitage offer cover in that position. Like Flutey, Monye was a Test Lion two summers ago and was a try scorer in the third-Test win over the Boks in Johannesburg.
Moody is the only official openside in the squad despite not being fit to play since the 23-19 win over Wales. The 2005 Lion has been confirmed as squad captain and is expected to return to action for the competition opener against the Pumas on September 10.
Charlie Hodgson – a 2005 Lions tourist – loses out to Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood but triple Lion Simon Shaw is included. Shaw turns 38 on September 1 and will be competing in New Zealand some 14 years after first touring South Africa with the Lions.
Wilkinson will equal Jason Leonard and Mike Catt’s English record of taking part in four World Cups as Johnson selects eight players who featured in the 2007 Final in Paris. Tindall and Steve Thompson join Wilkinson as the only survivors from the original World Cup winning squad of 2003 (Shaw was called up as a replacement in New Zealand).
There are nine Lions in the 30-man squad – three less than both Ireland and Wales selected but four more than Scotland.
Charlie Sharples, Chris Robshaw, Mouritz Botha, Paul Doran Jones and Tim Payne join Flutey, Fourie, Monye and Hodgson in not making the final cut.
England World Cup squad
Backs: Delon Armitage (London Irish), Ben Foden (Northampton), Chris Ashton (Northampton), Mark Cueto (Sale), Matt Banahan (Bath), Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester), Toby Flood (Leicester), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Joe Simpson (Wasps), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester)
Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Andrew Sheridan (Sale), Matt Stevens (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Lee Mears (Bath), Steve Thompson (Wasps), Louis Deacon (Leicester), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Simon Shaw (unattached), Tom Croft (Leicester), Nick Easter (Harlequins), James Haskell (Ricoh Black Rams), Lewis Moody (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton)
NB Bold denotes Lion