England Under 20 Head Coach Martin Haag has named his 28-man squad for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester (7-25 June).
The home side face Italy, Scotland and Australia in Pool B and several players with Premiership experience have been included: Theo Brophy-Clews, Will Evans, Harry Mallinder, Joe Marchant, Ollie Thorley and Johnny Williams.
Jack Walker will play in his third World Rugby U20 Championship, while George Perkins and Josh Bainbridge both featured in Italy last year.
England have a strong record in the tournament having reached six finals in the last eight years but this squad have a unique opportunity to play in front of their home supporters.
“This group will only play together for this tournament. It will be a proud moment when they pull on the white jersey and run out in front of family and friends in a home World Cup,” said Haag.
Of the 28 in the squad, 20 players featured in the recent Six Nations campaign while Harry Randall has been called up from the England Under 18s. In total 12 Premiership clubs are represented as well as three players from Yorkshire Carnegie.
The squad will meet on 22 May for a week-long training camp in Newcastle and Haag, who was appointed earlier this year, says it will be important to build a bond and get the team to play with its own identity.
“It’s about driving our own standards and our own identity and in that camp we need to set the tone for how we want to play,” he said. “When we go on that training park we will be short and sharp and play with high intensity. We need to get the learning and education in so that we’re in good shape and also have the right environment heading into the tournament.”
With five games in just under three weeks, Haag expects to use all 28 members of his squad highlighting the importance of keeping players fit and fresh during the tournament.
“The format of the tournament means you can’t expect anyone to play 80 minutes of every single game,” he said.
“We’ve picked a strong squad and we’re really looking forward to seeing all these guys in action. Players will, of course, be picked on form but we will be managing workload and how we ensure mental and physical recovery between games.”
England were beaten in the Six Nations by Scotland before bouncing back against Italy and, although this was prior to Haag’s involvement, he knows his players will be looking forward to re-matches with these teams, as well as the opportunity to take on southern hemisphere opposition.
Haag’s side face Italy on 7 June at the Manchester City Academy Stadium and then Scotland on 11 June, before playing Australia at Sale Sharks’ ground, the AJ Bell Stadium, on 15 June.
“We’ll prepare well over the coming weeks and analyse those teams and the focus will be on our workrate and putting in good performances.” he said.
England squad for World Rugby U20 Championship:
Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins)
Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby)
Josh Bainbridge (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Theo Brophy-Clews (London Irish)
Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons)
Will Evans (Leicester Tigers)
Matt Gallagher (Saracens)
Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Billy Keast (Exeter Chiefs)
Andrew Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)
Max Malins (Saracens)
Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
George Nott (Sale Sharks)
George Perkins (Saracens)
Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
Stan South (Harlequins)
Will Stuart (Wasps)
Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
Billy Walker (Saracens)
Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie)
Tom West (Wasps)
Johnny Williams (London Irish)
Jack Willis (Wasps)
For tickets and more information about the World Rugby U20 Championship visit: http://www.englandrugby.com/u20championships/ #FutureStarsofRugby
England Pool B fixtures:
England v Italy (Tuesday 7 June) KO 19:45, Manchester City Academy Stadium
England v Scotland (Saturday 11 June) KO 18:00, Manchester City Academy Stadium
England v Australia (Wednesday 15 June) KO 19:45 AJ Bell Stadium
Semi-finals and knock-out matches (Monday 20 June) Details TBC
Final and knock-out games (Saturday 25 June) Details TBC