11:25am Friday 17th January 2014
By SNJ Sport
England Saxons have named a 25-man training squad to face the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm on Saturday, January 25 (5pm, live on Sky Sports HD1).
The group includes 10 players called in from outside the Saxons Elite Player Squad, nine of whom are making their first appearances at this level.
Young forwards Alex Waller (Northampton Saints), Dave Ward, Charlie Matthews (both Harlequins) and Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons), and backs Dave Lewis, Henry Slade, Sam Hill (all Exeter Chiefs), and Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby) have all impressed this season, as has Tom Varndell (London Wasps) who returns to the squad for the first time since 2009.
They step up as temporary replacements for those players currently injured or elevated to the Senior squad that assembles next Monday. Gloucester centre Henry Trinder (groin) has not been considered to face the Wolfhounds.
The Saxons squad will be updated to take on Scotland A in Glasgow on January 31 but before then they face a significant challenge against the Wolfhounds, who they beat 14-10 in Galway last season with a late score from Saracens flanker Will Fraser.
Joe Lydon, the RFU's Head of International Player Development, leads the Saxons management with Head Coach Jon Callard assisted by Simon Hardy and Saracens' Paul Gustard.
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: "Our philosophy on selection is to give some younger players an opportunity alongside one or two more established players who are looking to push into the Senior squad. It is a great opportunity for players to put a marker down and show they have the ability to go from club to country and still deliver the club form many of them have been showing. The opportunities ahead of them are clear with a major tour to New Zealand to come this summer before the Rugby World Cup next year.
"We have a good blend in the backline with the likes of Henry Slade and Sam Hill stepping up from England Under 20 side that won the Junior World Championship last summer.
"In the back three, we're all excited about seeing Mathew Tait in an England shirt once more and having him, Elliot Daly, Tom Varndell and Semesa Rokoduguni available means we're strong in that area, and we will rotate the squad so everyone will get an opportunity.
"We've followed Semesa's progress since his days in the British Army, he's excited about playing England after qualifying by residence and his form and the feedback from the Bath coaches has been excellent this season."
There are still tickets available for the game at Kingsholm and they start at just £8 for adults and Kids for a Quid. Visit www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk/tickets to purchase tickets.
Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby)
Calum Clark (Northampton Saints)
Will Collier (Harlequins)
Sam Dickinson (Northampton Saints)
Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs)
Jamie George (Saracens)
Jamie Gibson (Leicester Tigers)
Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)
George Kruis (Saracens)
Charlie Matthews (Harlequins)
Luke Wallace (Harlequins)
Alex Waller (Northampton Saints)
Dave Ward (Harlequins)
Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
Miles Benjamin (Leicester Tigers)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)
Elliot Daly (London Wasps)
Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs)
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)
Dave Lewis (Exeter Chiefs)
Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby)
Mathew Tait (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Varndell (London Wasps)
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