It is, however, the list of absentees that attracted the most attention. Besides Sinckler and Vunipola, several of England’s top players at the 2019 World Cup, including flanker Sam Underhill, center Henry Slade, winger Jonny May, butterfly half George Ford and center Manu Tuilagi, who is recovering from ‘injury, have missed.
Sinckler tweeted: “Honestly gutted not to be involved. Appreciate messages of support. No time to feel sorry for myself and blame others. Let’s get back behind the team and wish the boys the best.
Gatland explained that Sinckler was overlooked due to the form of Tadhg Furlong and Zander Fagerson in the Six Nations for Ireland and Scotland, as well as Andrew Porter’s ability to cover the head free. An obvious lack of form also cost Billy Vunipola, the No.8 Saracens, a place in the squad.
“We’ve seen the explosive No.8s in the way they wear, with footwork, and with Billy at the moment he’s probably not quite there,” Gatland said. “I haven’t seen him in the Six Nations have the same kind of impact he has had in the past, in terms of how important he was for England when they got it – crossing the winning line , break up tackles.