School leaver to start for England against Barbarians


Nick Isiekwe will start for England against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday less than a year on from leaving school.


The former Haileybury pupil, who was a part of the Grand Slam winning England U20 side, starts in the second row alongside Bath’s Charlie Ewels, the former Bryanston School and England U20 captain.


Isiekwe is one of eight uncapped players in the starting XV, with a further seven on the bench, and is one of two school leavers in the 23, with Sale Sharks’ Tom Curry waiting on the wings on the bench. Like Isiekwe, Curry starred for England U20 in the 6 Nations. He was a late call up into the 23 through, replacing his twin brother Ben, for whom he has played alongside at Oundle School, England U18, and U20 level, as well as at Sale.


The Currys and Isiekwe were set to try to help England U20 make it four World Rugby U20 Championships in five years in Georgia next month, but were called up to the senior squad for Sunday’s game and the tour to Argentina.


They are joined in Sunday’s squad by a number of other recent U20 stars. Saracens’ Nathan Earle was a winner at U20 level back in 2014 and starts on the right wing, while hooker Jack Singleton was part of last year’s successful campaign. Ellis Genge, meanwhile, was part of Charlie Ewels’ 2015 side that got to the final.


At openside there is another exciting young player, former England U18 captain Sam Underhill. Underhill was released by Gloucester a few years ago but his form for the Ospreys has seen England tout him for a year or so now, and by moving to Bath this summer, he becomes eligible.


There is some experience in the squad, with George Ford and Chris Robshaw named as co-captains, while Danny Care, Mike Brown, and Jonny May all have plenty of experience, as does Richard Wigglesworth on the bench.


Though this will be a first appearance in a senior England shirt for many, they will have to wait a little longer for that first cap as the Barbarians fixture is not a capped international.


Commenting on the squad, Eddie Jones said:


“I’m excited about this squad playing the Barbarians on Sunday, the players have trained really well with intensity over the last few weeks and now we need to put that onto the field this weekend.”


“While we have some really experienced players starting the game there is a great opportunity for some of the younger players to show what they are about against a Barbarians team full of quality international players.”


“We will be treating this game as a Test match and expecting the Barbarians to start the game quickly. This match will be crucial preparation ahead of our two-Test series against Argentina next month.”


England XV v Barbarians


15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 60 caps)

14 Nathan Earle (Saracens, uncapped)

13 Sam James (Sale Sharks, uncapped)

12 Alex Lozowski (Saracens, uncapped)

11 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 25 caps)

10 George Ford (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)

9 Danny Care (Harlequins, 71 caps)

1 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap)

2 Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)

3 Will Collier (Harlequins, uncapped)

4 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)

5 Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, uncapped)

6 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 55 caps)

7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, uncapped)

8 Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks, uncapped)



16 George McGuigan (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)

17 Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks, uncapped)

18 Jamal Ford-Robinson (Bristol Rugby, uncapped)

19 Will Spencer (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)

20 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, uncapped)

21 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, uncapped)

22 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 27 caps)

23 Mike Haley (Sale Sharks, uncapped)

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