Harlequins prop Joe Marler is expected to be available for England’s autumn showdown against Australia after the decision to spread his three-week ban for striking over an elongated period was queried.
Marler was suspended on Wednesday and the European Professional Club Rugby disciplinary committee decided the ban would not include Quins’ Anglo-Welsh Cup fixture with Saracens on 5 November due to the 27-year-old’s “likely playing commitments”.
The front-row forward was therefore ruled out of England’s matches with Argentina on 11 November and Australia a week later, and he was subsequently omitted from head coach Eddie Jones’s 34-man squad for the autumn, which was announced on Thursday.
While the disciplinary committee decided not to include the Anglo-Welsh Cup game as part of Marler’s ban, the opposite applied to Nathan Hughes of Wasps and it is believed Quins have successfully queried the verdict with tournament organisers.
The upshot of the matter is that loosehead prop Marler is set to be free to face the Wallabies on 18 November if selected by Jones, who has confirmed he has the ability to draft players into the squad at any stage during the campaign.
Exeter No8 Sam Simmonds, meanwhile, received his maiden England call-up to Jones’s autumn squadron, although there was no place for experienced flanker James Haskell.
Wing Denny Solomona was also included, despite being banished from a training camp in August following a heavy drinking session, at the expense of Marland Yarde, while rookies Marcus Smith and Zach Mercer have been selected as “apprentice players”.
“I had a good chat to Haskell on Saturday,” said Jones. “At the moment he’s just not playing well enough, but the door isn’t shut to him. He’s been a great servant to English rugby and I’m sure he can regain his form.”
Jones insisted the point-scoring ability of Solomona, who earned his first England cap against Argentina in June, was the determining factor in his inclusion.
“We had a look at Marland in regards to Denny,” added Jones. “In terms of tries scored, the number Denny has scored is far superior. We want a try-scorer on our right wing.”
England skipper Dylan Hartley was included in the 34-man party after he escaped disciplinary action at Wednesday’s hearing.