England Head Coach Martin Haag has named an unchanged squad for Saturday’s World Rugby Under 20 Championship final against Ireland at AJ Bell Stadium (7pm, live on Sky Sports 3).
England recorded pool victories against Italy, Scotland as well as Australia before defeating South Africa in the semi-final.
Haag’s side scored 18 tries on their way to the last two as England became finalists for the seventh time in nine years.
“It’s going to be a great occasion and for us it is about focusing on delivering at the highest level,” said Haag.
“We need to execute effectively and do the simple things well. There is a lot of emotion around these games which is why it’s important not to try and do anything differently in our approach.
“As always, we are aiming to get to a level of performance that we aspire to and we were very close against South Africa. The challenge for us is how we replicate and then improve on that.”
The side will be led by fly-half Harry Mallinder with Max Green named at scrum-half and inside centre Johnny Williams partnering Joe Marchant in midfield.
Wingers Sam Aspland-Robinson and Matt Gallagher as well as full-back Max Malins make up England’s back three.
Hooker Jack Singleton is joined in the front row by Lewis Boyce and Billy Walker while lock-forward Stan South partners Huw Taylor.
Flanker George Nott, who plays his club rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium for Sale Sharks, is named in the back row along with Will Evans and No. 8 Callum Chick.
Haag’s side scored five tries against South Africa in a stunning first 40 minutes of rugby and he says the same players deserve the chance to play against Ireland on Saturday.
“There were some tough calls to make in selection. The performance against South Africa was fantastic and because of that those guys have earned their places for the final game,” said Haag.
“We were really pleased with the impact off the bench too and are going to need that again in the latter stages of this game against Ireland.”
Haag says a key focus since Monday’s game has been on recovery and he has challenged his side to improve on the performances that have got them to the final.
“We’ve kept the same intensity in how we’ve trained, ready for how we want to play. Every day we go on that training park we try and improve all aspects of our game and hopefully that transfers into a strong performance on Saturday.”
England’s U20 Head Coach also paid tribute to his squad’s attitude during the tournament and the way they have bonded as a group in such a short space of time.
In total 10 players have made their debut at U20 level for England during the competition.
“They’ve come a long way in a short space of time,” he said. “The team spirit is fantastic and as a result the group is stronger and tighter. I’ve said it before, the players who are not selected deserve as much credit and recognition as those who are. Each week those players have given their all to ensure the squad is in the best possible place heading into a game.
“I think the way this group have conducted themselves as young men has been exemplary. Everyone says how polite they are, they have embraced community outreach days, enjoying the opportunity to share their energy and enthusiasm for the game with young people in the area.”
For many of the squad, it will be their final involvement at age-grade level for England and Haag hopes the experiences of the past few weeks will stay with them for life.
“Many of these players have come through the age groups and this is the last time they will all play together. Over the past three or four weeks they have made friendships that will last forever. That’s testament to the way they have acted and also gone about their work.”
Haag also paid tribute to his backroom staff. “The staff and wider management have put in a huge amount of work and done an incredible job to prepare and develop this team. They, and the whole squad, know however that the job is not yet done and tomorrow gives us the opportunity to create some very special memories,” he said.
England squad to play Ireland:
15 Max Malins (Saracens)
14 Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Johnny Williams (London Irish)
11 Matt Gallagher (Saracens)
10 Harry Mallinder – Captain (Northampton Saints)
9 Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
1 Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
2 Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
3 Billy Walker (Saracens)
4 Stan South (Harlequins)
5 Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
6 George Nott (Sale Sharks)
7 Will Evans (Leicester Tigers)
8 Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons)
16 Charlie Piper (Harlequins)
17 Tom West (Wasps)
18 Will Stuart (Wasps)
19 Andrew Kitchener (Worcester Warriors)
20 Jack Willis (Wasps)
21 Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
22 Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie)
23 Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)