Tom Parton, Ben Loader, Josh Basham and Rory Brand have all been named in the England Under-20 squad for this Friday’s U20 Six Nations opener against Italy at the Stadio Enzo Bearzot (kick-off 6pm GMT).
Loader makes his England Under-20 debut on the wing, while Parton gets the nod at full-back as Steve Bates’ men look to get their campaign off to a winning start. Back row Josh Basham and scrum-half Rory Brand are named among the replacements.
“It’s been really difficult to select a XV because we have some very talented young players and several of them have performed very well over the first half of the season,” said England head coach Bates.
“Choosing the 32-man elite player squad was difficult enough, so narrowing that down has been even tougher. We’ve tried to take into consideration the way they have performed in our two camps, which has been first class, as well as the games they’ve played up until Christmas.
“We’ll play high-intensity, high-tempo rugby against Italy and I expect us to be robust and direct. We’ve also talked about being reactive throughout the tournament and I think we have a side that is very versatile.
“Excitement is building among the squad as this is the first match of the tournament and we’re determined to make our own history.
“Most of the players in the senior side have played under-20 rugby so that shows the strength of the pathway. The pathway is there to promote players through the programme and the new caps will be excited about following in the footsteps of some very special players. They recognise how big an opportunity this is for them.”
*denotes uncapped player
15. Tom Parton (London Irish)
14. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
13. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)*
12. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
11. Ben Loader (London Irish)*
10. James Grayson (Northampton Saints)
9. Ben White (Leicester Tigers)*
8. Tom Willis (Wasps)*
7. Ben Earl (captain) (Saracens)
6. Sam Moore (Sale Sharks)*
5. James Scott (Worcester Warriors)*
4. Dino Lamb (Harlequins)
3. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
2. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
1. Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints)*
16. Gabriel Oghre (Wasps)*
17. Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby)
18. Joe Morris (Worcester Warriors)
19. Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers)*
20. Josh Basham (London Irish)*
21. Rory Brand (London Irish)
22. Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)*
23. Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)*
England U20 Six Nations fixtures
Italy v England
Friday 2 February (6pm GMT)
Stadio Enzo Bearzot, Gorizia
England v Wales
Friday 9 February (kick-off 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Action)
Kingston Park, Newcastle
Scotland v England
Friday 23 February (kick-off 7.30pm)
France v England
Friday 9 March, KO 9pm (kick-off 8pm GMT)
Stade de la Mediterranee, Beziers
England v Ireland
Friday 16 March (kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports Action)
Ricoh Arena, Coventry