England U20 name squad to play Australia
England Head Coach Martin Haag has made five changes to his side for their final pool game of the World Rugby Under 20 Championship.
Haag's side take on Australia at Sale Sharks' AJ Bell Stadium on Wednesday (kick-off 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports 3).
Victory would seal top spot in Pool B for England who have secured successive bonus-point victories from their opening two fixtures in Manchester.
George Perkins of Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens, who played in last year’s U20 World Championship, gets his first action of the tournament on the wing, while Gloucester Rugby scrum-half Harry Randall earns a starting spot.
Lewis Boyce is joined in the front row by fellow prop Will Stuart, both of whom were among the replacements against Scotland, with Bath Rugby’s Zach Mercer chosen at No. 8 for England.
“There is fantastic depth in this squad, there are some guys who haven’t had much game time and we’re trying to give them a little bit more,” said Haag.
“It is about the wider 28, we are all in this together, this is our third game in eight days and it is important we manage players as well as selecting a side which we believe can get the result.
“This is a team that has a great attacking intent and who can score tries from a number of different sources. It is a team that is composed, enjoys each other’s company, who are proud to wear the England shirt and play at a level that they themselves aspire to.”
England, who will again be led by hooker Jack Walker, have so far recorded victories against Italy (48-10) and Scotland (44-0), scoring 11 tries and conceding just one.
However, Haag says his side can improve yet further as they look to seal top spot in the pool.
“For us it’s about improving each game,” he said. “We’ve created lots of opportunities so we want to find that clinical edge not only in attack but all areas – set piece, general play and in our defence.
“We’ve seen everything we wanted to see from the players in the first two games, we just want to be that much better, that’s our challenge collectively and individually."
Elsewhere, Bath Rugby’s Darren Atkins is picked at full-back, with Harlequin Joe Marchant and London Irish’s Johnny Williams making up England’s midfield pairing.
Saracen Matt Gallagher is on the opposite wing to Perkins while Northampton Saints’ Harry Mallinder again plays at fly-half.
Harlequin Stan South and Worcester Warrior Huw Taylor form England’s second-row pairing while Sale Shark George Nott and Leicester Tiger Will Evans join Mercer in the back row.
Australia lost their opening fixture against Scotland with a bonus-point victory over Italy giving them six points in Pool B.
And Haag is expecting a stern test off the Australian side who need to beat England to have any chance of progressing through to the semi-finals as pool leaders.
“This is an opportunity to play against a world-class team in Australia and to test ourselves against their class and quality of opposition,” he said. “It’s about this group playing and expressing themselves.
“We are not focusing too much on other people or beyond the pool stages. It’s about the here and now and trying to get a good result against Australia and we know that we have to play at the highest level in order to do that.
“For us we’ll take it game by game in an attempt to progress to a level that we can be really proud of.”
England squad to play Australia:
15 Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby)
14 George Perkins (Saracens)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Johnny Williams (London Irish)
11 Matt Gallagher (Saracens)
10 Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
9 Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
1 Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
2 Jack Walker – captain (Yorkshire Carnegie)
3 Will Stuart (Wasps)
4 Stan South (Harlequins)
5 Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
6 George Nott (Sale Sharks)
7 Will Evans (Leicester Tigers)
8 Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
16 Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
17 Billy Keast (Exeter Chiefs)
18 Billy Walker (Saracens)
19 Jack Willis (Wasps)
20 Josh Bainbridge (Yorkshire Carnegie)
21 Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
22 Max Malins (Saracens)
23 Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie)
England Pool B fixtures:
England 48-10 Italy (Tuesday 7 June) KO 19:45, Manchester City Academy Stadium
England 44-0 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
For tickets and more information about the World Rugby U20 Championship visit: http://www.englandrugby.com/u20championships/ #FutureStarsofRugby