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England U20s shake things up for Wales

England U20s have named their team to play Wales U20s on Friday evening, giving Gus Jones and Tom Ellis their first starts of the campaign.

The Wasps flanker, Jones, comes in at openside flanker alongside Ross Moriarty at 6, and Joel Conlon at number 8. Hayden Stringer comes into the squad for the first time on the bench.

Ellis starts in the second row in place of his Bath teammate Charlie Ewels, the former Millfield pupil will be partnered by former Harrow schoolboy, and the scorer of three tries already this campaign, Maro Itoje – who has been made captain in a late change after Callum Braley was forced to drop out through illness. Gloucester’s Jonny Hill comes onto the bench to cover them and will hope for his first ppearance of the campaign.

Bedford Blues’ winger Aaron Morris also comes into the 23, he will cover the back threeof Henry Purdy, Zach Kibirige, and the in form Howard Packman from the bench.

Kibirige is joined by his Newcaslte Falcons teammate Scott Wilson, who starts in the front row alongside Northampton Saints’ Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, and Leicester Tigers’ Harry Thacker. The two Falcons players will be sure of an excellent reception as they run out infront of their home crowd at Kingston park for the Friday night fixture.

Callum Braley was again due to captain the side from scrum half, with Billy Burns continuing at fly half, however he pulls out due to injury and Henry Taylor comes in, Stuart Townsend and Sam Olver will cover him and Burns from the bench, while in the centres Harry Sloan and the outstanding Nick Tompkins continue their partnership.

Covering the front row are three starts of the 2011/12 and 2012/13 schoolboy rugby seasons, Tom Woolstencroft, Paul Hill, and Alex Lundberg, whose brother has been lighting up the school rugby world in his stead this season.

The last time that these two met it was the final of the JWC back in June, where England won an exciting game 23-15 to lift the trophy. Two players from that England side are now in the England squad, with Jack Nowell starting all 3 Six Nations games to date, while several more are in the Saxons squad, showing just how close these players are to the very top of the game.

Speaking ahead of the game, the U20s Head Coach, Nick Walshe, said:

“We’ve made a good start to the Championship, it was disappointing to lose out in France but bounced back with good wins against Scotland and Ireland. The positive thing is that we still feel there is more to come from the guys, and we’re hoping for a good performance against Wales.”

“We’ve made a few changes to the side and that gives us the opportunity to try out some new combinations – having that strength in depth is crucial, and we feel that we’ve picked a strong side for Friday.”

“There’s not a chance we’ll be taking Wales lightly, we obviously know them pretty well and they have strength all over the park, but equally, so do we. We’re really pleased to be up here in Newcastle and can’t wait to get out there in front of a good home crowd.”

England U20s v Wales U20s, Friday 7th March, kick off 19.45 (Live on Sky Sports)

What do you think of the England U20s side? Who do you think the first players to break through into the senior set up will be? Let us know via @FifteenRugbyXV or via the comment box below.

England U20 XV:

15 Howard Packman (Northampton Saints),  14 Zach Kibirige (Newcastle Falcons),  13 Nick Tompkins (Saracens),  12 Harry Sloan (Harlequins),  11 Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers),  10 Billy Burns (Gloucester),  9 Henry Taylor (Loughborough University);  1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints),  2 Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers),  3 Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons),  4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, captain),  5 Tom Ellis (Bath),  6 Ross Moriarty (Gloucester),  7 Gus Jones (London Wasps),  8 Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs).

Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft (Bath),  17 Alex Lundberg (London Wasps),  18 Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie),  19 Jonny Hill (Gloucester),  20 Hayden Stringer (Saracens),  21 Stuart Townsend (Exeter Chiefs),  22 Sam Olver (Northampton Saints),  23 Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues).

Wales U20 XV:

Afon Bagshaw (RGC); Tyler Morgan (Dragons), Steffan Hughes (capt, Scarlets), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Ashley Evans (Ospreys); Angus O’Brien (Dragons), Tom Williams (Blues); Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Ethan Lewis (Blues), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Dragons), Joe Davies (Dragons), Ben Roach (Blues), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons), James Benjamin (Dragons).

Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Luke Garrett (Dragons), Benjamin Leung (Scarlets), Rob Dudley-Jones (Ospreys), Will Boyde (Carmarthen), Luc Jones (Dragons), Luke Price (Ospreys), Joshua Adams (Scarlets).

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