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England U20 braced for Wallaby challenge

Nick Walshe has made six changes to the England U20 side from the team that beat Italy 63-3 on Monday.

His side face Australia at 06.30 on Friday in what is likely to be a Pool decider following the junior Wallabies 36-17 victory over Argentina on the opening day of the competition.

The Bath and former Millfield lock, Tom Ellis is unable to take a place in the 23 following the injury he picked up against Italy, however his Bath teammate and former Bryanston School adversary, Charlie Ewels steps in to fill his shoes alongside the Saracens and former Harrow lock, Maro Itoje.

Squad captain Callum Braley is on the bench, with Loughborough University’s former Cranleigh School star Henry Taylor starting at scrum half. As in the U20 Six Nations, Braley’s absence means that the captaincy passes over to the excellent Itoje.

Elsewhere, Exeter Chiefs’ Joel Conlon comes in for James Chisholm at number 8, Chisholm takes his place on the bench alongside fellow back row man Hayden Thompson-Stringer from Saracens.

It’s all change in the halfbacks, with the aforementioned Taylor coming for Braley at nine, and Gloucester’s Billy Burns coming in for the impressive Sam Olver at ten, Olver and Braley will likely be involved from the bench though.

There’s plenty of change in the back three too. Henry Purdy replaces his Leicester Tigers teammate George Catchpole on the right wing, while Northampton Saints’ Howard Packman, so impressive for England 7s this spring, replaces Bedford’s Aaron Morris at full back, Morris starts this one from the bench.

Monday’s hat-trick hero, Nathan Earle, retains his place on the left wing, while the excellent centre pairing of Nick Tompkins and Harry Sloan continue their run together in midfield.

Aside form Conlon and Ewels inclusion the pack is unsurprisingly unchanged from that victory over Italy, they dismantled the Italian set piece in brutal fashion. That means that Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Tom Woolstencroft, and Paul Hill retain their places in the front row, while Ross Moriarty and the ever-impressive Gus Jones start at six and seven respectively.

Speaking ahead of the game, Maro Itoje was keen to stress that there was more to come from the side despite that dominant performance against Italy:

“We were pleased with how we played against Italy but the overriding feeling was that we still had more to come. We have trained well this week with the ultimate aim of performing well in this game.”

“Australia will be a huge threat, they have players who have some Super Rugby experience, but we have players who have played at the top level too. We have prepared well and it’ll be a real honour to lead this England side out on Friday.”

England U20 v Australia U20 Friday, 06.30 Sky Sports 1

England U20 XV:

1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints)  2 Tom Woolstencroft (Bath)  3 Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie)  4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, captain)  5 Charlie Ewels (Bath)  6 Ross Moriarty (Gloucester)  7 Gus Jones (London Wasps)  8 Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs);  9 Henry Taylor (Loughborough University)  10 Billy Burns (Gloucester)  11 Nathan Earle (Saracens)  12 Harry Sloan (Harlequins)  13 Nick Tompkins (Saracens)  14 Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers)  15 Howard Packman (Northampton Saints).

Replacements:  16 Jack Walker  17 Alex Lundberg  18 Harry Rudkin  19 Hayden Thompson-Stringer  20 James Chisholm  21 Callum Braley  22 Sam Olver  23 Aaron Morris.

Australia U20 XV:

1 Rory O’Connor  2 Harry Scobie  3 Allan Alaalatoa  4 Matt Phillip  5 Tom Staniforth  6 Sean McMahon (captain)  7 Rowan Perry  8 Ross Haylett-Petty;  9 Joe Powell  10 Jake McIntyre  11 Andrew Kellaway  12 Jimmy Stewart  13 Lalakai Foketi  14 Brad Lacey  15 Jonah Placid.

Replacements:  16 Feleti Kaitu’u  17 Cameron Orr  18 Tom Robertson  19 Jack Payne  20 Jack Dempsey  21 Angus Pulver  22 David Horowitz  23 Luke Burton.

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