England Saxons: Sam Burgess and Chris Ashton in 24-man squad

Jon Callard's second-string England team to face Ireland Wolfhounds blends rising stars with international experience

By Gareth Llewellyn

Sam Burgess has been handed a chance to shine for England after being named in the England Saxons squad to take on Ireland Wolfhounds.

Despite making just five starts for Bath Rugby since switching from rugby league, the 26-year-old centre is listed in a star-studded squad for the Cork clash that includes a trio of international wings in Saracens’ Chris Ashton, Wasps’ Christian Wade and Harlequins’ Marland Yarde.

England international forwards Matt Mullan, Rob Webber, Matt Kvesic and Kieran Brookes also have an extra chance to stake their claim for involvement at the Six Nations with Red Rose head coach Stuart Lancaster set to watch the match at Irish Independent Park on 30 January.

“The match against the Wolfhounds in Cork 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 said.

“And we also have the likes of David Strettle and Freddie Burns, who are very much in our thinking as options going forward.”

The squad, led by Jon Callard, blends youth and experience from Saracens’ 20-year-old lock Maro Itoje, who captained the U20 side to Junior World Championship glory in June, and 21-year-old Exeter Chiefs outside-half Henry Slade to 18-times capped Harlequins scrum-half Lee Dickson, who will captain the squad, and Leicester Tigers’ British and Irish Lions flanker Tom Croft.

England Saxons squad:

Forwards (14): Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Christian Day (Northampton Saints), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs), Matt Garvey (Bath Rugby), Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rubgy), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Henry Thomas (Bath), Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs), Alex Waller (Northampton Saints), Rob Webber (Bath).

Backs (10): Chris Ashton (Saracens), Sam Burgess (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Ollie Devoto (Bath Rugby), Lee Dickson (Northampton, captain), Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors), Joe Simpson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Christian Wade (Wasps).

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