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Exeter's Hepburn in England squad


Harlequins’ 20-year-old prop Lewis Boyce is one of eight uncapped players in the England squad for the Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome.Exeter prop Alec Hepburn also receives a call-up, as does Newcastle flanker Gary Graham.In the absence of Nathan Hughes and Billy Vunipola, Bath number eight Zach Mercer is named and is no longer listed as an apprentice player.

Eddie Jones’ side face the Italians in Rome on Sunday, 4 February.”I have selected the strongest available squad to prepare for our opening match against Italy,” Jones said.”While we have a few players unavailable through injury or suspension, it has provided opportunity for others who will be desperate to be involved in the Italy game.”In addition to Hughes and Vunipola’s injuries – both of which look set to rule them out of the entire tournament – Jones is without British and Irish Lions winger Elliot Daly, who has an ankle problem.Wasps flanker James Haskell and Harlequins prop Joe Marler are banned for the opener against Italy and 10 February’s home fixture against Wales after being found guilty of dangerous play for their club sides.England squad to face ItalyBacksMike Brown (Harlequins), Nathan Earle (Saracens), Harry Mallinder (Northampton), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Alex Lozowski (Saracens),Jack Nowell (Exeter), Henry Slade (Exeter), Ben Te’o (Worcester) Marcus Smith (Harlequins) **, Ben Youngs (Leicester)ForwardsGary Graham (Newcastle), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (Wasps)Zach Mercer (Bath), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Sam Simmonds (Exeter), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Lewis Boyce (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Tom Dunn (Bath), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs)** – Apprentice playerMore to follow.Insight and chat – subscribe to the Rugby Union Weekly podcast
Source: Devon BBC