England coach Brian Ashton has turned to Lawrence Dallaglio for the first time - and offered the veteran Wasps skipper a route to the 2007 World Cup.
Dallaglio, 34, had been out of the England picture since the 2006 Six Nations but his form in leading Wasps to victory in the Heineken Cup earned him a place in Ashton's 47-man World Cup training squad, which includes Newcastle Falcons backs quartet Jonny Wilkinson, Toby Flood, Jamie Noon and Mathew Tait.
Dallaglio is joined in the extended party by 10 Wasps team-mates - the most of any Guinness Premiership club - and 14 other members of England's victorious 2003 World Cup squad.
"Someone like Lawrence is never off the radar for a whole variety of reasons," said Ashton. "By his own admission, he wasn't playing well enough to be picked for the Six Nations. Once the Heineken Cup got to the knockout phases, he suddenly demonstrated he is good enough to play again and influence a game at that level.
"It was purely on the playing side that he came back into consideration for selection. Had he not been playing at that level then he would not have been considered."
But England's back-row options are strong and Ashton insisted Dallaglio still has work to do if he is to make the final 30-man World Cup squad, which must be named on August 14. Dallaglio was influential in Wasps' Heineken Cup final win over Leicester but was replaced after 50 minutes - and Ashton needs to know he can last the pace.
"He has also got to be able to demonstrate an ability to play for 80 minutes," said Ashton. "It is very difficult to get your mind around taking players to a World Cup tournament thinking they can only play 50 minutes, given the squad is only 30-men strong. But I don't think it will be an issue and there's no doubt in the Wasps' coaches minds that he can."
There was no place in the squad for Danny Grewcock after the Bath lock was handed a punching ban which rules him out of the August warm-up Tests and England's first two World Cup matches, including the vital pool match against South Africa. But Grewcock yesterday lodged an appeal and, if that was to be successful, Ashton would revisit his selection.
"I've spoken to him at length this week," Ashton said. "At the moment, he is banned until the second group game. Depending on the outcome of the appeal, I'll have further questions down the line."
Other notable absentees include Iain Balshaw and James Simpson-Daniel, who Ashton said did not have the "durability" required for a World Cup, plus forwards Chris Jones and Pat Sanderson.
England were badly outmuscled in South Africa and Ashton has looked to increase their physicality with the inclusion of players like Dallaglio, the uncapped Leicester centre Dan Hipkiss, recalled lock Simon Shaw, centres Andy Farrell and Fraser Waters, prop Kevin Yates and hooker Mark Regan.
The latter two impressed Ashton on tour, while Waters produced a huge defensive performance in Wasps' Heineken Cup final win.
England training squad
backs: n Abendanon (Bath), O Barkley (Bath), M Catt (London Irish), D Cipriani (Wasps), M Cueto (Sale), A Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Newcastle), S Geraghty (London Irish), A Gomarsall (Harlequins), D Hipkiss (Leicester), C Hodgson (Sale), J Lewsey (Wasps), O Morgan (Gloucester), J Noon (Newcastle), S Perry (Bristol), P Richards (Gloucester), J Robinson (Sale), P Sackey (Wasps), D Strettle (Harlequins), M Tait (Newcastle), M Tindall (Gloucester), F Waters (Wasps), J Wilkinson (Newcastle). FORWARDS: S Borthwick (Bath), G Chuter (Leicester), M Corry (Leicester), L Dallaglio (Wasps), L Deacon (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins), P Freshwater (Perpignan), J Haskell (Wasps), A Hazell (Gloucester), B Kay (Leicester), M Lund (Sale), L Mears (Bath), L Moody (Leicester), T Palmer (Wasps), T Rees (Wasps), M Regan (Bristol), S Shaw (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale), M Stevens (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps), D Ward-Smith (Bristol), J White (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), K Yates (Saracens).