Eddie Jones last night snapped up two of the brightest talents in English rugby and put them straight in his Six Nations squad.
Harry Randall and Paolo Odogwu, both 23, have lit up the Premiership this season and were also eligible for Wales and Italy respectively.
But Jones wasted no time including them in a slimmed down 28-man squad charged with retaining the Six Nations title.
“They’ve both got something a little bit different about them,” Jones said of Bristol scrum-half Randall and Wasps utility back Odogwu.
“Harry’s running and his initiative in attack has really caught the eye, Paolo has a bit of an X-factor in his power.
“We’re looking for another centre or winger who has that and he’s been consistently dynamic in being able to break lines.”
Jones announced his squad from his room at England’s base in Teddington on the fourth of his 10 days in self-isolation.
He chose not to dwell on Cameron Redpath, who has plumped for Scotland rather than England, saying: “I am only here to talk about players selected for England.
“These boys with dual nations to pick from have to make a choice. We want guys who want to play for England like Harry. He had no hesitation.”
England launch their title defence at home to Scotland on February 6 and hinted that Bath prop Beno Obano, the third uncapped member of the squad, could feature.
The way Jones spoke about Coventry-born Odogwu suggests there could be a role for him as well, as a game changer off the bench.
“Every time he plays he’s got something about him,” the Australian said of Odogwu, who leads the league in clean breaks and metres gained.
“One of the things Bob Dwyer taught me about selection was look for those players that can be world-class at something.
“He (Odogwu) can be world-class in terms of line-breaking. That’s what has caught my attention.”
Jonathan Joseph and Jack Willis are omitted from the squad, as is Kyle Sinckler – though the prop will come in once he has served his two-game ban.
The presence of four Bath players was only possible after the West Country club learned that they did not, after all, have to shut their training ground due to a Covid outbreak.
Bath chief executive Tarquin McDonald admitted yesterday that it had been a “scary” time for the club to be told it had 19 positives plus a further 16 contacts.
Randox, the company tasked with testing in the Premiership, later discovered they had blundered and in fact Bath had just the one positive.
“For 24 hours we went into crisis mode and it was a very concerning time,” said McDonald. “Thankfully it was a false alarm, though the impact of that error was significant and highly disruptive.”
Backs: Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell (capt), George Ford, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Jonny May, Paolo Odogwu, Harry Randall, Dan Robson, Henry Slade, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.
Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Beno Obano, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola, Harry Williams, Mark Wilson.