England announce southern hemisphere tour schedule

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The RFU have announced England will contest a five-match tour of Australia and New Zealand this summer.

The tour also features two matches against the Australian Barbarians on June 8 in Perth and June 15 in Gosford.

England's final fixture is against New Zealand Maori on June 23 in Napier, in a match which will form part of the New Zealand Maori centenary celebrations.

A squad of 44 players comprising members of the elite squad and Saxons representatives will contest England's first five-match summer tour since their visit to South Africa 10 years ago.

England team manager Martin Johnson said: "The tour presents all the players and coaches with a great opportunity to test themselves against some excellent teams.

"All five matches will be very tough and give us the opportunity to look at some players who may not have had the opportunity to play on this tour if it had been restricted to two test matches.

"The games will be great occasions and to play the New Zealand Maori in their centenary year is a huge honour."

The RFU's elite rugby director Rob Andrew added: "I'd like to thank the Australia and New Zealand Unions for helping us to set up this tour and Premier Rugby and the RPA (Rugby Players Association) for their on-going support for the England representative teams as part of the eight-year agreement.

"It will give England squad members an excellent opportunity of experiencing a full tour before they potentially get selected for a Rugby World Cup.

"The squad will include players that would otherwise have travelled to Denver for the Churchill Cup with the England Saxons in May and June and it also gives a number of players the opportunity to step up into the Saxons squad via the Elite Player Pathway and they will benefit from the experience."