NINE uncapped players have been named in England’s squad for the RBS Six Nations with interim boss Stuart Lancaster looking to start a “new era for English rugby”.
The England senior and Saxons Elite Player squads were revealed by Lancaster and assistant coach Graham Rowntree at West Park Leeds RUFC this afternoon, Wednesday, and a total of 15 changes have been made to the senior squad announced last August.
Following England’s disappointing World Cup campaign in New Zealand, Lancaster, a former Wakefield RFC player and PE teacher at Kettlethorpe High School, has taken the opportunity to rejuvenate the national squad with fresh faces before they kick-off the Six Nations with a trip to Murrayfield to face Scotland on February 4.
Saracens centres Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell, Northampton Saints’ Lee Dickson, Phil Dowson and Calum Clark, Scarlets’ Ben Morgan, Harlequins duo Joe Marler and Jordan Turner-Hall and Wasps hooker Rob Webber are all called-up to senior duty for the first time.
Lewis Moody, Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Thompson have retired and injuries have kept Andrew Sheridan and Richard Wigglesworth out.
Lancaster said: “This is about a new era for English rugby. I always thought that January 2012 would be a defining moment.
“It is an exciting and talented squad. We want to be the best and it is an opportunity to build a squad that has potential now and in the future.
“I trust the players we have selected. They have been on the cusp and they deserve their chance.”
He added: “Lots of players have been putting their hands up and there were some tough calls to make.
“However, in line with the selection philosophy we have taken the chance to make changes and give players opportunities to be part of the journey towards 2015.”
The squad will meet for their pre-RBS Six Nations training camp on Monday, January 23, and use facilities around the North Leeds area, including West Park Leeds and weights facilities at the Leeds Rugby Academy at Kirkstall.
England Elite Player Squad (EPS) for the RBS Six Nations - Forwards: Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Tom Croft (Tigers), Louis Deacon (Tigers), Phil Dowson (Saints), Dylan Hartley (Saints), Courtney Lawes (Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Lee Mears (Bath), Ben Morgan (Scarlets), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Rob Webber (Wasps), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).
Backs: Chris Ashton (Saints), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Tigers), Ben Foden (Saints), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Joe Simpson (Wasps), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester), David Strettle (Saracens), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Tigers), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Tigers).
England Saxons EPS - Forwards: David Attwood (Bath), Chris Brooker (Harlequins), Paul Doran Jones (Saints), Matt Garvey (London Irish), James Gaskell (Sale Sharks), Jamie Gibson (London Irish), Joe Gray (Harlequins), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors), Luke Narraway (Gloucester), David Paice (London Irish), Geoff Parling (Tigers), George Robson (Harlequins), Andrew Saull (Saracens), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Thomas Waldrom (Tigers), Nick Wood (Gloucester).
Backs: Nick Abendanon (Bath), Anthony Allen (Tigers), Delon Armitage (London Irish), Matt Banahan (Bath), Freddie Burns (Gloucester), Karl Dickson (Harlequins), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish), Ryan Lamb (Saints), Jonny May (Gloucester), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Henry Trinder (Gloucester), Billy Twelvetrees (Tigers), Micky Young (Tigers).
Read Friday’s Wakefield Express for more of the latest sports news.