English Rugby
England change six in Elite Player Squad
ESPN Staff
August 1, 2013
Marland Yarde and Kyle Eastmond have got the nod from Lancaster © Getty Images

England coach Stuart Lancaster has made six changes to the Elite Player Squad ahead of next season, although both Dylan Hartley and Chris Ashton are retained in the group.

There are just 23 matches until the start of the 2015 World Cup and Lancaster has stuck with the large majority of the players who saw England through last season's Six Nations, while also opting to bring in a few who shone on their end-of-season tour to Argentina.

Ahead of the autumn internationals, which see England come up against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand, Lancaster has drafted in young wingers Christian Wade and Marland Yarde. The pair made their debuts for the national side against the Pumas, with Wade playing in the first Test before being called up by the British & Irish Lions and Yarde playing in the second, where he managed to cross for two tries.

Elsewhere in the backs, Lancaster has brought in Bath centre Kyle Eastmond at the expense of his new club team-mate Jonathan Joseph. Eastmond, who played rugby league for St Helens, is another to have benefited from the tour to Argentina and started both Tests, scoring one try.

Ashton is also included despite having scored just two tries in his last 17 Tests for England. Saracens winger David Strettle, alongside Joseph, drops down to the Saxons.

In the forwards, Lancaster has brought in Bath's Dave Attwood, Saracens' Billy Vunipola and Gloucester's Matt Kvesic. Attwood, who has four caps for England, was brought back into the senior England squad for the two Tests against the Pumas. His last appearances for the national side had come back in November 2010.

England captain Tom Wood and coach Stuart Lancaster celebrate a series victory over Argentina, Argentina v England, Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires, June 15, 2013
Lancaster is expected to wait until October to confirm his captain for the autumn series © Getty Images

Vunipola came off the bench for the two games against Argentina but has done enough to get himself included in the senior squad and Kvesic has also got the nod after impressing in June. With those three included, Northampton's Calum Clark, Wasps' James Haskell, Leicester's Thomas Waldrom and Exeter Chiefs' Tom Johnson all find themselves in the Saxons.

"This was the toughest EPS selection we've had to make with fierce competition for places in every area of the squad after an excellent summer for England players at all levels," Lancaster said. "Christian Wade and Marland Yarde brought their outstanding Aviva Premiership form to the tour, Kyle Eastmond showed the potential he has and by including him in the squad we get a chance to work with him some more as we build towards the autumn.

"Up front, David Attwood adds a physical presence to the second row and in Matt Kvesic and Billy Vunipola we have young back row players who will challenge our more established back row players hard."

And Lancaster has also kept the faith with Hartley, despite him picking up a 11-week ban for his conduct during the Aviva Premiership final.

"I had a long hard think about it and a long conversation with him (Hartley)," Lancaster added. "I wanted to be reassured that he understands where the line is, what is right and what is wrong. He accepts that and he knows he need a strong start to the season with Northampton as changes can be made with Rob Webber and David Paice pushing hard."

England's Dylan Hartley celebrates in training, Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey, England, February 26, 2013
Dylan Hartley has kept his place in the EPS © Getty Images

The Saxons have undergone a revamp with 11 players dropped out of the squad and a host coming in. Leicester's Mathew Tait is a notable inclusion while Bath's Rob Webber, who started both Tests in the summer, will look to contend with Hartley and Tom Youngs for a spot in the senior squad. There are also first call-ups for Jack Nowell and Harlequins flanker Luke Wallace.

"Jack Nowell played well for his club, he played well for England, he's an exciting young player and the sooner we get him into the squad and start working with him the better," Lancaster said. "Mathew Tait was in great form at the end of last season and he is a quality player. With the players we've got in the back three he's going to add to that and put pressure on the players above.

"We've got some young forwards coming through with the likes of Luke Wallace, Will Fraser, Ed Slater and George Kruis the types of players we want pushing through, then hopefully their form and fitness will push them through into the senior squad."

England senior EPS:

Forwards: David Attwood (Bath Rugby), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Alex Goode (Saracens), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Marland Yarde (London Irish), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

England Saxons:

Forwards: Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers), Paul Doran Jones (Harlequins), Will Fraser (Saracens), James Haskell (London Wasps), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers), George Kruis (Saracens), Kearnan Myall (London Wasps), David Paice (London Irish), George Robson (Harlequins), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), Luke Wallace (Harlequins), Rob Webber (Bath Rugby), Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby)

Backs: Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Elliot Daly (London Wasps), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), David Strettle (Saracens), Mathew Tait (Leicester Tigers), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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