English rugby
Kitchener to make Saxons debut against Russia
June 9, 2010
Graham Kitchener in action during the IRB Junior World Championship semi final match between England and South Africa, Prince Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo, Japan, June 17, 2009
Graham Kitchener will make his England Saxons debut © Getty Images

Worcester lock Graham Kitchener will make his England Saxons debut in Wednesday's Churchill Cup opener against Russia.

Kitchener, 20, stands an imposing at six feet seven inches tall and played 23 times for the Warriors last season. He scored his third career try in the LV= Cup defeat to the Scarlets.

Props Alex Corbisiero of London Irish and Bath's Nathan Catt also stand to win their first Saxons caps from the replacements' bench.

Leicester-bound lock George Skivington will take over as Saxons captain with Phil Dowson called up into the full England squad as cover for the injured Hendre Fourie. Saracens flanker Andy Saull also comes into the team.

Fly-half Stephen Myler, who made a superb Saxons breakthrough in last year's competition, lines up in front of an exciting back division that also features wingers Tom Varndell of Wasps and James Simpson-Daniel of Gloucester, Bath full-back Nick Abendanon and former England senior centre Anthony Allen, who will line up alongside Northampton's Jon Clarke.

Saxons assistant coach Andy Farrell said he was impressed by the attitude of the players but refused to underestimate the challenge Russia would present.

"I've been very impressed with the players," said Farrell. "It's nice to see the young lads coming into the dynamics of a squad with experienced guys like Phil Dowson and all gelling together to be one. Our biggest strength is our collectiveness. All the camaraderie off the field will count for a lot on the field against Russia and we will try to build it from there.

"I'm expecting Russia to see this as an opportunity, we've got to understand that and be disciplined in how we play. They are well organised, they've got a great set-piece, they've got some big boys who are quite aggressive and some talented individuals but I'm sure we will give a good showing of ourselves in our first outing."

Head coach Stuart Lancaster believes the Churchill Cup is the best platform to elevate his players to senior honours as next year's Rugby World Cup looms.

We have great pride in the players who step up from the Saxons to play for the seniors," said Lancaster. "Playing for your country is a massive motivation, coming here to win the Churchill Cup is a huge driver and trying to elevate these players into the World Cup squad is a massive management motivation."

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