England Rugby World Cup squad: Maro Itoje and Sam Burgess included in 50-man training squad

Head coach Stuart Lancaster has named seven uncapped players in his preliminary training squad for the Rugby World Cup

Click to follow
The Independent Online

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has named uncapped duo Maro Itoje and Sam Burgess in his 50-man World Cup training squad ahead of the tournament on home soil later this year.

20-year-old Itoje had been tipped for inclusion after breaking into the Saracens first-team this season as well as leading Saracens Storm to the A-League title and England Under-20s to Junior World Championship glory last year. Former rugby league star Burgess struggled to adapt to union as he started his 15-man education in the centres, but a switch to blindside flanker has given fresh hope that he could yet make the cut for the 31-man final World Cup squad.

Joining Itoje and Burgess in the uncapped camp is Northampton Saints flanker Calum Clark, Exeter Chiefs hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and centre Henry Slade, Wasps centre Elliot Daly and Leicester Tigers lock Ed Slater - who did play against the Crusaders on last year's tour of New Zealand but has not obtained his first cap.

Click on the gallery below to see the full training squad

 

A number of players who have found themselves out of Lancaster’s recent England plans have been given one final chance to impress, with Saracens’ in-form wings Chris Ashton and David Strettle included, while Ben Morgan is named in the training squad despite his on-going recovery from a broken leg he suffered before the Six Nations earlier this year.

Maro-Itoje2.jpg
Itoje has been included in the England World Cup training squad

However, there is no place in the squad for Bath prop Henry Thomas, Leicester lock Graham Kitchener and Northampton second-row Christian Day despite being named in the Six Nations squad. Another notable absentee is Tigers back-row Tom Croft, who is a major doubt for the World Cup after suffering a dislocated shoulder in March and undergoing surgery.

As expected, there is no space for exiled duo Steffon Armitage and Nick Abendanon, with the respective Toulon and Clermont Auvergne players omitted from the squad despite their impressive form for the European Champions Cup finalists due to the Rugby Football Union's stance on overseas-based players.

Sam-Burgess.jpg
Bath's Sam Burgess has been included in the squad (Getty Images)

Speaking at a press conference at Twickenham, Lancaster defended the stance on the decision to overlook those players currently not plying their trade in England.

"The policy was put in place to support the short, medium and long-term health of the English game and I've fully supported it. We believe it's important," Lancaster said.

"We want to see all of our players play for English clubs. We believe it's our responsibility as national coaches to protect the health of the English game.

"We also believe the commitment of players who have decided to stay in England would be eroded if we selected those who are based overseas.

"It was a difficult decision, but we feel it was the right one. I've been consistent on this since the start.

"If the policy changed, we could see players start to join clubs in France. Where does it leave you if more and more players go overseas? In my opinion it leaves you weaker."

Steffon-Armitage.jpg
Toulon flanker Armitage has not been considered for selection

Lancaster also explained how the large squad will allow the coaching staff, made up of himself Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt, a detailed look at players either on the fringe of the side or returning from long-term injury.

"We are excited to name this extended squad which allows us to look at a wide group of players who have been pushing hard for selection in training with us or playing well for their clubs this season," said Lancaster.

"It's great to be able to include Alex Corbisiero, Joe Launchbury, Ben Morgan, Ed Slater and David Wilson, who missed the Six Nations because of injury and are close to returning to play or have recently begun playing again.

"There are a lot of experienced internationals within the squad with the likes of Chris Ashton and David Strettle, who are in great form, returning."

One name Lancaster had already confirmed would not be in the squad is that of Manu Tuilagi, after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a taxi driver and two female police officers and was subsequently banned by Lancaster until 2016.

Manu-Tuilagi.jpg
Tuilagi has been banned from the England squad until January 2016

"There's no other word to describe the Manu situation other than disappointing - the incident itself, for Manu himself and for the country," Lancaster said.

"It was a tough week last week, but it was the right decision and right stance.

"Whether he was fit or unfit was irrelevant, the way players behave as role models on and off the field is important."

England Rugby World Cup training squad

Chris Ashton (Saracens), Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby), Brad Barritt (Saracens) , Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Mike Brown (Harlequins) , Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Sam Burgess (Bath Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins) , Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby) , Nick Easter (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens) , George Ford (Bath Rugby) , Alex Goode (Saracens) , Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) , James Haskell (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), George Kruis (Saracens) , Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Marler (Harlequins) , Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) , Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) , Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), David Strettle (Saracens), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Mako Vunipola (Saracens) , Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) , Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Comments