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Premiership Rugby

Woodward starts to whittle down his squad

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The eight players to miss out are hooker Andy Titterrell (Sale), prop Will Green (Wasps), lock Steve Borthwick (Bath), back rowers Andy Hazell (Gloucester) and Alex Sanderson (Sale), fly-half Dave Walder, centre Jamie Noon (both Newcastle Falcons) and Leeds fullback Dan Scarbrough.

Green, Borthwick, Hazell, Sanderson, Walder, Noon and Scarbrough all featured against either Wales or France, with Sanderson and Borthwick both starting against the French at the weekend.

All eight players will, however, be candidates to be on standby in the event of any injuries to the final 30-man England squad, which will be announced on Monday, September 8.

Woodward's newest squad has 35 players, with the England boss set to chop five more players after this weekend's re-match against France at Twickenham.

"As expected I've had to make some very tough decisions, but I've made these earlier than I initially intended to in order to give the players as much notice as possible so that they can return to their clubs and prepare for the Zurich Premiership season," explained Woodward.

"I'd like to thank all of their clubs for their support in releasing the players and hope that they have successful seasons. All eight players have been outstanding in their attitude on and off the field and I can't speak highly enough of them.

"They're all young players who have a future with the England squad and I hope that they have benefited from the experience they have gained in the last few weeks.

"I haven't made any decisions regarding the remaining five players who won't be travelling to Australia but the final 30 will be announced as planned on September 8."

One player that survived Woodward's first culling is fullback Iain Balshaw, but the Bath star has been ruled out of this weekend's re-match against France because of a troublesome knee injury.

Balshaw has only just returned to action after a horrific run of injuries and this latest setback does his World Cup chances little good. England have a wealth of talent in the back three and the Bath star's rivals will pounce at the chance to impress in his absence.

Balshaw has long been regarded as one of Woodward's favourite players, but the England boss insists that there will be no place for sentimentality in his final cut.

Meanwhile, Woodward also announced that centre Mike Tindall, who has a calf muscle injury, will not play against Les Bleus this weekend.

But the powerful Bath centre – who scored a try in Saturday's 17-16 defeat in Marseille – will sleep a little easier than his injury-prone Bath team-mate, with Woodward already assuring him of a place on the Perth-bound plane.

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