England Saxons expect to be tested by strong Ireland Wolfhounds side in Cork
Former England full-back Jon Callard will coach the Saxons for the 'A' team clash at Irish Indepednent Park on 30 January
England Saxons expect a tough examination when they take on Ireland Wolfhounds in Cork at the end of the month.
England’s second team, coached by former Bath and England full-back Jon Callard, return to Ireland for the first time since 2013 on 30 January to open the Munster’s €3.2 million (£2.5m) redeveloped Musgrave Park, now rebranded as Irish Independent Park after a naming rights deal.
The fixture has historically been extremely well contested by both teams and we are expecting the same in Cork.
On their last visit to Ireland, England needed a try from Saracens flanker Will Fraser and three penalty goals from George Ford in the second half to overturn the Wolfhounds’ 10-0 lead at Connacht’s Sportsground home in Galway.
But the Irish side got their revenge at Gloucester’s Kingsholm in January 2014 with a 14-8 win as an out-of-sorts Freddie Burns dramatically failed to ground the ball with the last move of the game.
Ireland are again expected to field a mixed team of experienced players and emerging talent ahead of their Six Nations title defence.
“The match will be a real test for us against a strong and experienced Wolfhounds side,” Collard said.
“The fixture has historically been extremely well contested by both teams and we are expecting the same in Cork.
“Ireland have a depth of talent and we’re looking forward to taking them on.”
The Saxons squad will be announced on 21 January at the same time as Stuart Lancaster names his senior England squad for the Six Nations, and the squad could give an indication of the England head coach’s thinking ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which begins in September.
This game against the Wolfhounds gives us a great opportunity to take a look at a group of players who are right on the edge of the senior squad
The match could take on extra intrigue with the England coaches weighing up whether or not to include Bath centre Sam Burgess as he continues his conversion from rugby league.
Burgess has impressed since making his Aviva Premiership debut last month and tipped by many to be part of England’s World Cup squad if his rapid development continues.
“This game against the Wolfhounds gives us a great opportunity to take a look at a group of players who are right on the edge of the senior squad,” Lancaster added.
“In a World Cup year there is everything to play for and this game is crucial in the build up towards the RBS 6 Nations and the Rugby World Cup itself.”