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England Six Nations Squad – Lancaster turns to Youth

Stuart Lancaster has made just one change to his Elite Player Squad, bringing in George Ford for the France bound Toby Flood.

The change is very much expected but will still be greeted with great excitement by fans across the country who have been calling for Ford to be given his chance.

Lancaster has made several changes to that EPS squad though in his Six Nations squad (the EPS is a squad that will serve right through to the end of the summer, while the Six Nations squad is, as the name suggests, just for the Six Natons), making eight injury replacements from his EPS, while also asking Stephen Myler, Rob Webber, and Richard Wigglesworth to train with the squad, with Freddie Burns being left out to regain his form with the Saxons.

Anthony Watson earns his first official call up into the squad, he was previously not even in the Saxons squad, but he now finds himself officially as one of the Saxons and now promoted into the Six Nations squad as an injury replacement for Ben Foden.

The other players promoted from the Saxons as injury replacements for EPS members are: Tom Johnson, Matt Mullan, Ed Slater, and Henry Thomas in the forwards for Tom Croft, Alex Corbisiero, Geoff Parling, and David Wilson. In the backs, Luther Burrell, Jonny May, and Jack Nowell come in for Manu Tuialgi, Christian Wade, and Marland Yarde, with Watson also coming in for Foden.

The inclusion of the likes of Ford, Nowell, Watson, and May will gather the most headlines of all the changes as it suggest a change of style from the England management. These young players are renowned for their pace and exuberance and their inclusion could suggest a new attacking edge to England’s game.

In all likelihood at least one of Watson, Nowell, and May will be starting too, given that Wade, Yarde, and Foden are all out. The only other option would be for the management to go ultra conservative and to pick Mike Brown on the iwng again with Alex Goode at full back and Chris Ashton on the other flank.

George Ford seems likely to see some game time too, given that he has replaced Flood in the EPS and Freddie Burns will spend the Six Nations with the Saxons. Stephen Myler might be training with the squad but there is no doubting that Ford is the senior man of the two in Stuart Lancaster’s eyes.

Speaking on the inclusion of Ford over Flood, and the fly half selections in general, Lancaster said:

“I am delighted for George who is rewarded for his form for Bath and we are excited about including him in the Senior Elite Player Squad.”

“I have met Toby Flood several times and told him I really wanted him to stay and stay at Leicester and play for England.”

“He has made a lifestyle choice and we respect that but given the RFU’s policy of not selecting players based overseas save for exceptional circumstances it was important that we allow others such as George Ford to progress.”

“Stephen Myler has a chance to lay down a marker when he trains with us while we have decided that Freddie Burns should get more international game time with the Saxons against the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm on January 25.”

On the fact that he has only made one change to his full EPS despite having further changes available, Lancaster explained that it was because he felt he already has the right squad, saying:

“We have kept changes to a minimum because we believe that this squad can take us forward into 2015 and we are hopeful that some of those injured may be available before the end of the Six Nations and certainly for the New Zealand tour.”

Despite that fact this suggests that some of his injury replacements may not see out the entire of the Six Nations with the squad should the EPS absentees return to fitness, the feeling remains very much that this is an England squad selected with a more attacking ethos in mind.

England Six Nations Squad:

Forwards: David Attwood (Bath Rugby), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Matt Mullan (London Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Rob Webber (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Backs: Chris Ashton (Saracens), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Anthony Watson (Bath), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Engand Elite Player Squad (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), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), George Ford (Bath), 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).

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