Six Nations 2013: I’ve picked England squad on form, insists Lancaster
Six Nations 2013: England head coach Stuart Lancaster insists he picked his squad for next month's tournament based on form
Stuart Lancaster has insisted he picked England’s elite performance squad for the Six Nations based on current form.
Lancaster has made seven changes in all from the July 2012 senior squad, with call-ups for Gloucester duo Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees, London Wasps pair Joe Launchbury and James Haskell as well as Northampton’s Calum Clark, Saracens’ David Strettle and Leicester’s Tom Youngs.
England’s Six Nations campaign kicks off against Scotland at Twickenham on 2 February, with the team heading up to Leeds at the end of next week to begin their preparations.
The inclusion of Burns and Twelvetrees comes as a reward for Gloucester’s fine start to the season, while Launchbury and Haskell were both involved in England’s triumph over the All Blacks last month.
Strettle’s inclusion comes at the expense of Charlie Sharples who has to settle for a place in the Saxons squad while Youngs started every game this autumn in the absence of the injured Dylan Hartley and comes in for the injured Rob Webber.
“The fact that we have spent significant time deliberating over quite a few players shows how tough the competition is to get into this 65 and the strength in depth that is emerging,” said Lancaster.
“We have made some changes to both squads and we feel that reflects the players’ form during the first half of the season.
“There will undoubtedly be movement between the two squads as we go through the Six Nations and that was evident in the QBE Internationals, with players in form pushing through such as Freddie Burns, Joe Launchbury, Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola.
“This is a very important year for England, with the Six Nations and the Saxons games to look forward to so there are some great opportunities for the players to demonstrate their club form at international level.
“The summer tour to Argentina will also be a great chance for those players pushing for a place, especially with some of our Senior squad hopefully going with the Lions, and chances will undoubtedly arise as we hope to play two midweek games as well as the two Tests.”