Northampton’s Calum Clark to captain England Saxons against Wolfhounds
Calum Clark will captain England Saxons against Ireland Wolfhounds on Saturday at Kingsholm
Calum Clark will captain England Saxons against Ireland Wolfhounds on Saturday at Kingsholm, Gloucester.
Making his debut for the England A side, the 24-year-old will lead a young team being assessed for their international potential with six others also making their first appearance for the Saxons.
Calum Clark has been a positive influence from the moment he arrived in camp
Centre Sam Hill (Exeter), prop Alex Waller (Northampton), lock Charlie Matthews and flanker Luke Wallace (both Harlequins), and No8 Dave Ewers (Exeter) all start.
19-year-old Bath wing Anthony Watson also joined the Saxons squad after being temporarily released from the Six Nations squad to replace injured club team-mate Semesa Rokoduguni.
Gloucester stand-off Freddie Burns, who was influential in the Saxons’ 23-11 win over the Wolfhounds at Exeter in 2012 and has three full international caps, also starts after being overlooked for the Six Nations squad.
Joe Lydon, RFU Head of International Player Development, said: “Calum Clark has been a positive influence from the moment he arrived in camp, he commands the respect of the group and I’m sure he will lead from the front.
“Freddie Burns has also made an outstanding contribution in the time he’s been with us and he will be vice-captain at Kingsholm.”
The Saxons XV boasts two other full internationals in Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson (one cap) and Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples (four).
Lydon added: “The players in this squad have worked very hard in a short week and there will be a lot of tremendous talent from the Aviva Premiership on show this Saturday and against Scotland A in Glasgow on Friday week. They’ve been helped by an outstanding contribution from the staff and coaching team led by Jon Callard, Simon Hardy and Paul Gustard.
“Players can make an immediate step from the Saxons into the senior side but we’re also looking at the development of those players with the longer term potential to push for places in England’s World Cup squads in 2015, 2019 and beyond.
“First and foremost, though, we want to win against the Wolfhounds and Scotland A. The recent history of these games tells us it will be hard work against two fiercely competitive teams.”
The Saxons came back from 10-0 down at half-time to defeat the Wolfhounds 14-10 at the Sportsground in Galway last year as Leicester’s George Ford kicked three penalties and Saracens’ Will Fraser scored the only try of the match.
The Irish A side’s last success against the Saxons saw Denis Hurley and Chris Henry score tries in a 20-11 win at Ravenhill in 2011 against a side featuring current England captain Chris Robshaw as well as other current internationals Alex Corbisiero, Billy Twelvetrees, Manu Tuilagi, Stephen Myler, Brad Barritt and Mike Brown.
England Saxons XV: Daly (Wasps); Watson (Bath), Hopper (Harlequins), Hill (Exeter), Sharples (Gloucester); Burns (Gloucester), Simpson (Wasps); Waller (Northampton), George (Saracens), Mercey (Northampton), Matthews (Harlequins), Kruis (Saracens), Clark (Northampton, captain),Wallace (Harlequins), Ewers (Exeter).
Replacements: Ward (Harlequins), Catt (Bath), Wilson (Newcastle), Stooke (Gloucester), Dickinson (Northampton), Lewis (Exeter), Slade (Exeter), Miller (Sale).