Itoje on the bench as England name Saxons side to play Ireland Wolfhounds


Maro Itoje, who lifted the JWC with England U20 last year will start on the bench for the England Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds.

The former Harrow pupil, just 20, is a former Fifteen Rugby One to Watch, and has captained Saracens Storm to A league glory this season, as well as gaining a handful of 1st XV appearances.

The headlines will undoubtedly focus on the selection of Sam Burgess at inside centre though, the former Rugby League star joined Bath is October but the England management are keen to fast-track his development as much as possible.

Wasps’ Elliot Daly partners Burgess in the centre, with another JWC winner, Henry Slade, starting at fly half. The Exeter Chief lifted the trophy in 2013, the year before Itoje.

Marland Yarde and Chris Ashton are on the wings, with Christian Wade, while Chris Pennell starts at full back, Lee Dickson captains the side from scrum half.

The pack has an experienced look to it. The front row of Matt Mullan, Rob Webber, and Henry Thomas all saw full international rugby in the autumn, whiel in the second row the more experienced Matt Garvey and James Gaskell start ahead of Itoje.

In the back row the Exeter Chiefs duo of Dave Ewers and Thomas Waldrom start, with Matt Kvesic on the openside.

The bench has a more youthful feel, 2013 JWC winners Luke Cowan Dickie and Ollie Devoto join Itoje, as do Saints loosehead Alex Waller and Wasps tighthead Jake Cooper-Woolley.

Bath’s Carl Fearns cover the back row, while the Wasps pair of Joe Simpson and the aforementioned Christian Wade cover scrum half and wing respectively.

Kieran Brookes was in the squad but has been called up to the senior side as precautionary cover for David Wilson, while Shane Geraghty is also with the senior squad despite having not been part of the Saxons in a bid to avoid disturbing the Saxons’ preparations.

Ireland Wolfhounds v England Saxons – Friday, 19.45, live on Sky Sports.

England Saxons:

15 Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors)  14 Chris Ashton (Saracens)  13 Elliot Daly (Wasps)  12 Sam Burgess (Bath)  11 Marland Yarde (Harlequins)  10 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)  9 Lee Dickson (c) (Northampton Saints)  1 Matt Mullan (Wasps)  2 Rob Webber (Bath)  3 Henry Thomas (Bath)  4 Matt Garvey (Bath)  5 James Gaskell (Wasps)  6 Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs)  7 Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby)  8 Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs).

Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)  17 Alex Waller (Northampton Saints)  18 Jake Cooper-Woolley (Wasps)  19 Maro Itoje (Saracens)  20 Carl Fearns (Bath)  21 Joe Simpson (Wasps)  22 Ollie Devoto (Bath)  23 Christian Wade (Wasps).

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