Bath centre Shontayne Hape was the surprise inclusion in England boss Martin Johnson's Senior EPS squad announced on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old qualifies for England on residential grounds having previously played rugby league for New Zealand.
After joining Bath from Super League outfit Bradford Bulls in 2008, Hape has made a big impact at the Rec and looks set to battle it out with compatriot Riki Flutey for the inside-centre berth.
Fellow rugby-league convert Chris Ashton is also included after a stunning start to the season for Northampton Saints in which he has scored 15 tries in 16 games.
Saints teammates Ben Foden and Courtney Lawes have also been rewarded for their good form with promotion in the senior squad however Northampton fly-half Shane Geraghty drops to the Saxons.
Also included in Stuart Lancaster’s Saxons squad are fly-halves Charlie Hodgson and Danny Cipriani along with Leicester prop Dan Cole who many were tipping for a starting berth in the RBS Six Nations.
Long-term injury victim Tom Rees is also named in the Saxons set-up with his place in the senior squad been taken by Leicester flanker Lewis Moody – one of the stars of the autumn internationals.
Delon Armitage, Toby Flood, Nick Easter and Flutey are all named in the senior squad despite missing the matches against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina through injury.
Two more changes will be announced on January 25 when final decisions will made on the fitness of Julian White and Andrew Sheridan while Wasps lock Simon Shaw’s injury situation will also be monitored.
England EPS Squad
S Armitage (London Irish), S Borthwick (Saracens), J Crane (Leicester), T Croft (Leicester), L Deacon (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), J Haskell (Stade Francais), C Lawes (Northampton), L Mears (Bath), L Moody (Leicester), T Payne (Wasps), S Shaw (Wasps), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), S Thompson (CA Brive), J White (Leicester), D Wilson (Bath)
D Armitage (London Irish), C Ashton (Northampton), M Banahan (Bath), D Care (Harlequins), M Cueto (Sale Sharks), H Ellis (Leicester), T Flood (Leicester), B Foden (Northampton), R Flutey (CA Brive), S Hape (Bath), D Hipkiss (Leicester), P Hodgson (London Irish), U Monye (Harlequins), M Tait (Sale Sharks), J Wilkinson (Toulon)