Jacob Umaga to start in World Rugby U20 Championship final v NZ
England have named their team for the World Rugby U20 Championship final against New Zealand on Sunday (kick-off 3pm BST, live on ITV4). Wasps’ Jacob Umaga starts at 12.
Bath's Zach Mercer captains the side at number eight and he is joined in the backrow by Ben Earl and Dino Lamb.
Harry Randall and Max Malins, who both played in last year’s final against Ireland, start at scrum-half and number 10.
Harlequins’ Gabriel Ibitoye, who has been nominated for World Rugby player of the tournament alongside his captain Mercer, is named on the left wing.
Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby) will play right wing. Wasps' Jacob Umaga starts his first game of the tournament at inside centre with Will Butler outside him while Northampton Saints’ James Grayson is named among the replacements.
Marcus Street and Theo Brophy Clews were not available for selection because of injury. Having lost five players to the senior squad before the tournament, a further five were ruled out of the tournament because of injury during the Championship.
And England U20 head coach Ian Vass paid tribute to the squad for their character during the past three weeks in Georgia.
“The great thing is that every player in this squad has played their part and contributed – it has been a real team effort and that is a credit to character of the group,” said Vass.
England are looking to seal their fourth title in five years and are unbeaten in the tournament. They sealed bonus-point victories against Samoa and Wales before being Australia in their final pool game. A late Mercer try against South Africa in the semi-final secured their path into Sunday’s final.
“We have had a tougher route to the final than New Zealand however tight games bring the best out of the players and the team and we have shown how to come out on top,” added Vass.
“Throughout the competition we haven’t put too much pressure on winning and it has been learning as a group.
“Each team we play has different strengths and the team we have picked will give us the best opportunity of winning. It would be fantastic achievement for the players to lift the trophy on Sunday and they are all excited to get on the field. “
England U20 team to face New Zealand: 15. Tom Parton (London Irish) 14. Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby) 13. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors) 12. Jacob Umaga (Wasps) 11. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins) 10. Max Malins (Saracens) 9. Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby) 1. Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens) 2. Joe Mullis (Gloucester Rugby) 3. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby) 4. Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs) 5. Jack Nay (Saracens) 6. Dino Lamb (Harlequins) 7. Ben Earl (Saracens) 8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) captain
Replacements: 16. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby) 17. Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby) 18. Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby) 19. Justin Clegg (Worcester Warriors) 20. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby) 21. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints) 22. James Grayson (Northampton Saints) 23. Paolo Odogwu (Sale Sharks)
England's 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship fixtures:
England 74 v 14 Samoa
England 34 v 22 Wales
England 20 v 19 Australia
England 24 v 22 South Africa
England v New Zealand: Sunday 18 June - Mikheil Meskhi Stadium