30 May 2017
London Irish’s Theo Brophy Clews has been named England Under-20s captain for the opening match of this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship against Samoa in Georgia (kick-off 10am BST).
Meanwhile, Tom Parton starts at full-back and will be hoping to build on a solid campaign with the Exiles in which he enjoyed a string of first team games under Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy.
“We’re all looking forward to this year’s competition and it will be a tough challenge in Georgia,” said Brophy Clews.
“There is a really good feeling within the camp and our focus is solely on the Samoa game this week.”
The match will be streamed live on http://www.worldrugby.org with the highlights shown on ITV4 on Wednesday 31 May.
Head Coach Ian Vass says he is expecting a tough, physical battle from Samoa.
“We’ve picked a team we believe can do a job against Samoa, bearing in mind it’s a long tournament and everyone is going to have to play at some point,” said Vass.
“Samoa have a lot of talented individual players who can run and score from anywhere on the field. They are very strong physically, carrying and tackling.”
The squad arrived in Tbilisi on Saturday and Vass says the side are eager to get the tournament started.
He added: “We want to see the lads put into practice everything we’ve been working on with them since before Christmas.
“We want to see them playing together as a team and defending as a team also working as hard as they can. If they do that then we have some good players who can make things happen. Really we just want them to put in a performance they can be pleased with.”
Tour captain Zach Mercer is also named in the starting line-up, playing at number eight for England on Wednesday, and Vass says he expects the Bath forward to lead by example on Wednesday.
“Zach is one of the more experienced players; he played in the tournament last year and has played a lot of Premiership games this year,” he said.
“He talks a lot to the team and leads by example with his actions on the field."
Vass, Louis Deacon and Tom Williams continue as England’s coaching team in Georgia, having joined the management as part of a new agreement with Premiership Rugby in which club coaches lead and develop the under-20s while gaining experience in an international environment.
England will face familiar faces in their second fixture when they come up against Wales on Sunday 4 June.
Australia, who were in England’s pool last year, are the opposition for their final pool game on Thursday 8 June.
England U20 team to face Samoa :
15. Tom Parton (London Irish)
14. Ali Crossdale (Saracens)
13. Dominic Morris (Saracens)
12. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
11. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
10. Theo Brophy-Clews (London Irish) captain
9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
1. Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby)
2. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons)
3. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
4. Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs)
5. Dino Lamb (Harlequins)
6. Max Davies (Newcastle Falcons)
7. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby)
8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
16. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
17. Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby)
18. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby)
19. Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors)
20. Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby)
21. Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
22. Max Malins (Saracens)
23. Jacob Umaga (Wasps)