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JWC winner Maro Itoje included as England name Senior & Saxons squads

Maro Itoje, the Saracens and former Harrow School lock/flanker has been named in the England Saxons squad for their forthcoming game against the Irish Wolfhounds.

Ijote, a former Fifteen Rugby One to Watch, was a key player and occasional captain of the England U20 side that won the JWC in June and also captained Saracens Storm to the A League title earlier this month.

The announcement came as Stuart Lancaster named his England Training Squad and Saxons squad for the forthcoming Six Nations Championship.

Seven of Itoje’s Saracens teammates were named in the senior squad, the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, George Kruis, as well as Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, Alex Goode, and Richard Wigglesworth.

The big news in the senior squad though was the inclusion of Danny Cipriani in the backs and Nick Easter in the forwards.

Both have been in exceptional form, and while Cipriani toured with the team to New Zealand in the summer, Nick Easter has not seen international action since 2011, however Ben Morgan’s recent injury opened the door for the Harlequins number 8.

He will vie with Billy Vunipola for the number 8 shirt, with Callum Clark, James Haskell, Tom Wood, and captain Chris Robshaw competing for the spots on the flank.

Cipriani is one of four fly halves, an unusually high number in a squad of 34, and a reflection that Stuart Lancaster has yet to decide if Stephen Myler or Cipriani is a better choice as back up to Owen Farrell and George Ford.

It is tempting to suggest that with four fly halves in the squad that Farrell may be considered as a 12, however with Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Luther Burrell, Kyle Eastmond, and Jonthan Joesph, fresh from that stunning performance v Toulouse, all in the squad, there is hardly a shortage.

With Ben Foden suffering a season ending injury, the choice of Mike Brown and Alex Goode as the squads full backs was a seemingly simple one, while Anthony Watson, Jack Nowell, and Jonny May are the wingers, with Chris Ashton, Christian Wade, and Marland Yarde all in the Saxons squad.

Richard Wigglesworth replaces Lee Dickson, who captains the Saxons, as the third choice scrum half between Danny Care and Ben Youngs.

In the absence of Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling and Dave Attwood are the senior second row partnership, with George Kruis and Graham Kitchener knocking on the door. Itoje and Christian Day could yet have a say with a strong Saxons performance.

Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs take the hooking berths, meaning an unlucky drop to Saxons duty for Rob Webber, who along with Luke Cowan-Dickie will be looking for a quick senior call up after the Saxons fixture.

Vunipola, Corbisiero, and Marler are all fit at the same time for the first time in a long time, while David Wilson and the seemingly unfit Dan Cole are the only two tightheads, meaning the Saxons will likely be raided for a tighthead before long.

The big news in the Saxons, other than Itoje’s selection, was the inclusion of Bath’s Sam Burgess. The former Rugby league star has had an impressive if unspectacular start to his Union career, but Stuart Lancaster and his staff are clearly keen to accelerate the process.

It is a sign of Bath’s strength in their backline that all four of their main centre option are included in the England squads, with Eastmond & Joseph in the senior side and Burgess and Ollie Devoto in the Saxons, though Devoto is likely to cover Henry Slade at fly half – Lancaster has said that Slade will start alongside Dickson.

The Saxons sees a real blend of experience and youth, with some players selected seemingly with an eye on plugging gaps in the Senior Squad, while others are presumably there to gain that little bit of extra experience.

Itoje might well be one of those, but one suspects that it will not be long before he is pulling on the senior white shirt. RWC 2015 might be too soon for him, but by 2019 a Launchbury/Itoje partnership would be no surprise.

Who would you pick in your England & Saxons teams? Let us know via @FifteenRugbyXV or via the comment box below.

England Squad:

Forwards:

Dave Attwood (Bath)

Callum Clark (Northampton Saints)

Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)

Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints)

Nick Easter (Harlequins)

Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)

James Haskell (Wasps)

Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)

George Kruis (Saracens)

Joe Marler (Harlequins)

Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)

Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain)

Mako Vunipola (Saracens)

Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

David Wilson (Bath)

Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)

Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs:

Brad Barritt (Saracens)

Mike Brown (Harlequins)

Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)

Danny Care (Harlequins)

Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)

Kyle Eastmond (Bath)

Owen Farrell (Saracens)

George Ford (Bath)

Alex Goode (Saracens)

Jonathan Joseph (Bath)

Jonny May (Gloucester)

Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)

Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)

Anthony Watson (Bath)

Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens)

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

England Saxons Squad:

Forwards:

Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)

Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)

Christian Day (Northampton Saints)  

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)

Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs)

Matt Garvey (Bath)

Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks)

Maro Itoje (Saracens)

Matt Kvesic (Gloucester)

Matt Mullan (Wasps) 

Henry Thomas (Bath)

Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)

Alex Waller (Northampton Saints)

Rob Webber (Bath)

Backs:

Chris Ashton (Saracens)

Sam Burgess (Bath)

Elliot Daly (Wasps)

Ollie Devoto (Bath)

Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, captain)

Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors)

Joe Simpson (Wasps) 

Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

Marland Yarde (Harlequins)

Christian Wade (Wasps) 

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