England Rugby
England unveil revised senior squad
ESPN Staff
January 9, 2013
England boss Stuart Lancaster explains his squad selection

Analysis by ESPNscrum's Tom Hamilton

  • The latest EPS shows just how far England have come since the debacle of the 2011 World Cup. When Stuart Lancaster picked his first EPS he rang the changes, with the likes of Nick Easter and Mike Tindall notable omissions, but fast-forward 12 months and it is hard to pick holes in his latest batch of alterations with the coach keeping the faith with majority of players that saw him through the autumn Tests.
  • Twelvetrees and Burns have both been superb for Gloucester, a team who at times have played some of the best rugby in the Aviva Premiership. Both deserve their chance to shine but while Burns should feature on the bench in England's Six Nations opener against Scotland, Twelvetrees may have to wait for his chance.
  • Elsewhere, the inclusion of Vunipola suggests that it will be a battle between him, the perennially injured Alex Corbisiero and Joe Marler for the loose-head berth for the Scotland clash. Tom Youngs, who started all four of England's autumn Tests, will have to fight off Dylan Hartley while Launchbury looks set to be a Test star for years to come.
  • Strettle is also back in from the cold but Lancaster is likely to keep the faith with the same side that beat the All Blacks against Scotland - injury permitting. And then there is Calum Clark. He has had to live with his own demons ever since he broke Rob Hawkins' arm but he has played well for the Saints and deserves his chance to shine.
  • It is an exciting EPS and it is clear that Lancaster is prepared to also take risks - as shown through the inclusions of Eastmond and Tomkins in the Saxons - but he will be mindful of letting a team grow as a unit rather than chopping and changing team selection from one weekend to the next.

England boss Stuart Lancaster has named uncapped duo Billy Twelvetrees and Calum Clark in his new elite player squad.

The England boss has opted to make seven changes to the one he named in July and has also added Mako Vunipola to the mix which takes the total number in the EPS up to 33. Centre Twelvetrees has been rewarded for his impressive form for Gloucester this term while Northampton's Clark earns a place in the mix, with Mouritz Botha dropping down to the Saxons, after serving a 32-week ban for breaking Rob Hawkins' arm last season.

Joe Launchbury, Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola and Freddie Burns have all been formally promoted into the senior squad after impressing during England's autumn international campaign. England's search for a left wing has led to a return for David Strettle in place of Charlie Sharples, who is more at home on the right, and James Haskell has replaced Phil Dowson in the back row.

Tom Youngs comes into the squad in place of hooker Rob Webber while Launchbury, who was named England's player of the autumn series, is given the nod at the expense of his Wasps team-mate Tom Palmer. Twelvetrees comes in for Leicester's Anthony Allen while Burns, who made his debut against the All Blacks, replaces Harlequins' Jordan Turner-Hall.

But the most surprising addition is arguably Clark. The combative 23-year-old gives England options in both the back row and second row, offering the same versatility as his Northampton colleague Courtney Lawes. Lancaster selected the Northampton flanker for last year's Six Nations squad but his subsequent ban - which ran from March 22 to November 1, ruled him out of the summer tour to South Africa and the autumn international series.

Lancaster's team start their Six Nations campaign against Scotland on February 2 and the coach explained his selections saying: "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.

"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 autumn 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."

Leicester's Tom Croft has been included after overcoming a career-threatening neck injury but he is unlikely to feature in the Six Nations, as he continues his fight to regain fitness. As a result uncapped No.8 Billy Vunipola will train with England in their pre-Six Nations camp in Leeds later this month.

Wasps' Billy Vunipola is one of seven fresh faces in England's Saxons set-up and he is joined by his team-mate Elliot Daly in the newlook group. Cross-code converts Kyle Eastmond and Joel Tomkins get the nod while Gloucester's Shaun Knight and Leicester's Ed Slater are also included. Saracens openside Will Fraser is also rewarded for his impressive form this season. The Saxons will play the Irish Wolfhounds in Galway on January 25 and will then take on Scotland A on February 1.

England Senior Elite Player Squad:

Forwards - C Clark (Northampton Saints), A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (London Wasps), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), J Launchbury (London Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), T Wood (Northampton Saints), T Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Backs - C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), F Burns (Gloucester Rugby), D Care (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton Saints), O Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Foden (Northampton Saints), A Goode (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), D Strettle (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

England Saxons squad:

Forwards - M Botha (Saracens), N Catt (Bath Rugby), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), P Doran Jones (Northampton Saints), P Dowson (Northampton Saints), W Fraser (Saracens), J Gray (Harlequins), G Kitchener (Leicester Tigers), S Knight (Gloucester Rugby), M Kvesic (Worcester Warriors), M Mullan (Worcester Warriors), D Paice (London Irish), T Palmer (London Wasps), G Robson (Harlequins), E Slater (Leicester Tigers), H Thomas (Sale Sharks), B Vunipola (London Wasps).

Backs - N Abendanon (Bath Rugby), A Allen (Leicester Tigers), T Biggs (Bath Rugby), E Daly (London Wasps), K Eastmond (Bath Rugby), G Ford (Leicester Tigers), G Lowe (Harlequins), J May (Gloucester Rugby), U Monye (Harlequins), J Simpson (London Wasps), C Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), J Tomkins (Saracens), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), C Wade (London Wasps), R Wigglesworth (Saracens).

Joe Launchbury's huge performances for England during the autumn series have propelled him into the EPS © Getty Images
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