Two Wasps named in England Under 20 squad
Back-rower Tom Willis and hooker Gaby Oghre have been named in England's U20 32-strong Elite Player Squad for the 2017/18 season, and could therefore represent their country against Ireland at the Ricoh Arena in March.
The squad, which will compete in the 2018 Six Nations as well as the World Rugby U20 Championship in May, is led by former black-and-gold scrum half Steve Bates plus fellow coaches Anthony Allen, Richard Blaze and James Ponton.
Of the 32 players, 14 have already been capped at U20 level, while ten members of the group reached the U20 World Cup final in Georgia before eventually losing to New Zealand.
Ben Curry, who was part of England’s senior squad that toured Argentina in the summer, is also named in the 32.
Marcus Smith, Nick Isiekwe and currently injured Tom Curry, who are all still eligible to play for the U20s, are not included due to their involvement with the England senior squad.
England open their U20 Six Nations campaign in Italy, before a home game against Wales in Newcastle. They then play Scotland in Edinburgh and France in Beziers before ending their campaign against Ireland at the Ricoh Arena on March 16.
Head coach Steve Bates said: “By naming the squad in January we’ve been able to pick players who have been performing well in the first half of the season. We have some injury issues but I think we’ve got a really exciting squad with players who have played a good amount of rugby.
“Our experienced players are going to be hugely influential as we don’t have much time together ahead of the Six Nations. The players who know what to expect will be important as they will have an impact on the playing style as well as getting the group together off the pitch and integrating everyone as quickly as possible.
“I expect us to be physical, uncompromising and we’ll play high-intensity, high-tempo rugby. We’ve got some very exciting young backs so if we can create some space for them we’ll be a threat. That is what we’re concentrating on.
“This is a new group of players with new coaches also so although we head into the Six Nations as defending champions we do not carry the pressure of that tag. We have a proud history in the tournament but we will be looking to create our own legacy with what is a new set up.
“We’ve got some talented guys who will push hard to make that step up to the senior side in the future and that shows the strength of the pathway. We’ve had a wider group of around 60 players that we’ve cut to 45 and now 32.
“There are a lot of good players who won’t be in the squad so that shows the strength in depth too.”
England U20 EPS Squad 2017/18
Forwards: Josh Basham (London Irish), Ben Curry (Sale Sharks), Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors), Ben Earl (Saracens), Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Dino Lamb (Harlequins), Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers), Sam Moore (Sale Sharks), Joe Morris (Worcester Warriors), Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), James Scott (Worcester Warriors), Alex Seville (Gloucester), Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs), Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints), Henry Walker (Gloucester), Tom Willis (Wasps).
Backs: Rory Brand (London Irish), Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), Aaron Chapman (Bristol), Ali Crossdale (Saracens), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), James Grayson (Northampton Saints), Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), Ben Loader (London Irish), Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers), Tom Parton (London Irish), Tom Seabrook (Gloucester), Joe Snow (Exeter Chiefs), Ben White (Leicester Tigers), Matt Williams (London Irish).