England name uncapped players to face Barbarians

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The Independent Online

England have named several uncapped players in their squad to prepare for next Sunday's clash against the Barbarians at Twickenham.

The rookie contingent includes Exeter flanker Tom Johnson, who was a key performer for the Chiefs during their impressive debut Aviva Premiership campaign, two 20-year-old props in Harlequins' Joe Marler and Newcastle's Kieran Brookes and promising Gloucester centre Henry Trinder.

But the group also features 11 players with senior England experience, among them Bath threequarter Matt Banahan, Saracens-bound fly-half Charlie Hodgson and Harlequins wing Ugo Monye.

There are eight players from this season's English European finalists Northampton and Quins, with England Saxons head coach Stuart Lancaster taking charge of preparations for the non-cap game.

No players from Leicester or Saracens were considered because of next Saturday's Premiership final between the clubs at Twickenham.

The game comes less than a week before England Saxons launch their Churchill Cup campaign, which they start against the United States at Northampton.

Lancaster said: "It is a great opportunity for all the players who are looking to force their way into Martin Johnson's plans for the World Cup, and those who will go on to defend the Churchill Cup with the England Saxons next month.

"We face a very big challenge against the Barbarians, who have a very experienced squad in terms of their average age and number of caps.

"But there is a great deal of quality in the England system at the moment, and a lot of these young players will get a chance to benchmark themselves against the best.

"We've seen that in the way the likes of Ben Youngs, Courtney Lawes, Alex Corbisiero have taken their chances recently.

"A lot of the players have played in big games recently, both in Europe and the Premiership.

"If we combine them with some of the more experienced players like Paul and Charlie Hodgson, Ugo Monye and James Simpson-Daniel, it should be an exciting combination."

The Barbarians squad, which includes the likes of Sergio Parisse, Martyn Williams and Carl Hayman, is set to be officially announced later today.

And they could also find a place for Australia rugby league international Willie Mason, who yesterday switched codes when he joined wealthy French club Toulon.

Mason has courted controversy throughout a chequered and colourful career in the 13-man code, and made only six appearances for Hull KR this year before being de-registered after failing to obtain a Tongan passport which would have made him a non-overseas player.

Rovers then stopped paying his wages after discovering he had gone behind their backs to talk to Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal, before releasing him from his three-year contract.

Although he has never played rugby union, Mason revealed yesterday that he is set to play for the Barbarians against England and against Wales in Cardiff six days later.

England squad for game against the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 29:

Backs: M Brown (Harlequins), J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), U Monye (Harlequins), M Banahan (Bath), H Trinder (Gloucester), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), S Myler (Northampton), R Clegg (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton), P Hodgson (London Irish).

Forwards: J Marler (Harlequins), M Mullan (Worcester), K Brookes (Newcastle), P Doran-Jones (Gloucester), D Paice (London Irish), J Gray (Harlequins), D Attwood (Gloucester), G Kitchener (Worcester), C Clark (Northampton), C Fearns (Sale Sharks), T Johnson (Exeter), J Gaskell (Sale Sharks), L Narraway (Gloucester).