Rugby

Lancaster names England team

2012-07-05 16:28
Stuart Lancaster (Gallo Images)
London - Saracens wing David Strettle and Wasps flanker James Haskell have been left out of England boss Stuart Lancaster's 32-man elite squad announced Thursday for the forthcoming season.

Lancaster admitted he faced "some tough decisions" before finalising his top 64 players for the England elite and England Saxons squads he will work with for the next six months.

Strettle and Haskell, who were both part of last month's three-Test South Africa tour, have to settle for Saxons spots.

There are call-ups, though, for Leicester trio Anthony Allen, Geoff Parling and Thomas Waldrom, Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, Saracens back Alex Goode, London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph and Exeter flanker Tom Johnson.

Care returns among the elite group following his well-documented off the pitch problems last season, joining fellow scrum-halves Ben Youngs and Lee Dickson.

Six players who did not tour South Africa because of injury are all back - Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples, Northampton forwards Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood, Saracens prop Matt Stevens, Bath hooker Rob Webber and Leicester flanker Tom Croft.

"We spent a long time deciding on these 64, and there were some tough decisions to make," head coach Lancaster said.

"Selecting players at this stage gives us an early chance to sit down and assess the tour and look forward to next season.

"However, experience tells us that form and fitness will play a major role in selection prior to the QBE internationals in November and December, and any of the players in the senior and Saxons squads could easily be involved.

"We saw this in January when Geoff Parling came in as an injury replacement for Louis Deacon and has played every Test since.

"There is always movement which opens the door for players, and I am sure next season will be no different."

There are first appearances in the Saxons contingent for Sale Sharks back Rob Miller - last season's Premiership top try-scorer - Wasps wing Christian Wade, Leicester fly-half George Ford, Bath prop Nathan Catt and Worcester flanker Matt Kvesic.

But there is no place in either group for fly-half Danny Cipriani, who will make his Premiership return with Sale next term following a Super Rugby stint at Melbourne Rebels.

Lancaster added: "The great thing is that we have got competition across the board and strength in depth developing in many positions with players who will be around for the next few years.

"There are also some exciting players just on the cusp of the squads such as Tom Homer, Charlie Matthews, Tom Heathcote and Elliot Daly, who we are really looking forward to seeing develop in the next 12 months and beyond."

Players in both squads will attend a training camp at Loughborough University from August 6-8.

England's next Test match is against Fiji at Twickenham on November 10, which is followed on successive weekends by appointments with Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

All four games will have a critical bearing on whether or not England are seeded for the 2015 World Cup on home soil.

The world's top four-ranked countries after the November internationals are guaranteed to be seeded, one in each tournament pool.

England are currently fourth on the International Rugby Board list behind New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, but just 0.06 of a point in front of France and only 0.83 above sixth-placed Wales.

"It will be a rugby-focused few days," said Lancaster, looking ahead to the Loughborough gathering

"It gives us the chance to review the South Africa tour and set our goals for next season and further."

England lost the South Africa Test series 2-0, but they drew the last game in Port Elizabeth and also comfortably won two midweek fixtures, showing continued signs of improvement under Lancaster.

---

Squad:

Forwards: Mouritz Botha, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Phil Dowson, Dylan Hartley, Tom Johnson, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Ben Morgan, Tom Palmer, Geoff Parling, Chris Robshaw, Matt Stevens, Thomas Waldrom, Rob Webber, Tom Wood.

Backs: Anthony Allen, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Mike Brown, Danny Care, Lee Dickson, Owen Farrell, Toby Flood, Ben Foden, Alex Goode, Jonathan Joseph, Charlie Sharples, Manu Tuilagi, Jordan Turner-Hall, Ben Youngs.

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