New era begins as Stuart Lancaster announces much changed England squad

 

Stuart Lancaster launched England's new era today when he announced an elite
squad featuring nine uncapped players and 13 changes from the failed World Cup
campaign.

Owen Farrell and his Saracens team-mate Brad Barritt both receive their first senior call-ups ahead of the RBS 6 Nations along with Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson and Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall.

Northampton provide a quarter of the squad with uncapped loose-forwards Phil Dowson and Calum Clark taking the Saints contingent to eight.

Harlequins prop Joe Marler and Wasps hooker Rob Webber are both included along with Ben Morgan, the Scarlets number eight who pledged his allegiance to England after turning down an approach from Wales.

Mouritz Botha, Charlie Sharples, Chris Robshaw and Joe Simpson will all be looking to add to the single cap they won under Martin Johnson's regime.

Toby Flood is the most experienced member of the squad with 46 caps, although he is set to miss the start of the Six Nations with a knee ligament injury.

Lancaster, England's interim head coach, turned to a new generation after omitting senior players Mike Tindall, Nick Easter and Mark Cueto.

Delon Armitage and Matt Banahan have both been relegated to the England Saxons squad and there is no place in either squad for Shontayne Hape.

Lewis Moody, Jonny Wilkinson and Steve Thompson have all retired, while Simon Shaw and James Haskell are ineligible for selection under Rugby Football Union rules after signing for overseas clubs.

That restriction does not apply to Morgan or Tom Palmer because their respective contracts with the Scarlets and Stade Francais pre-date the RFU's directive.

Lancaster said: "In line with the selection philosophy about starting new era for English rugby, we have taken the chance to make changes and give players opportunities to be part of the journey towards (the Rugby World Cup in) 2015.

"We have lost some great players who have worn the England shirt with pride and distinction - Lewis, Steve and Jonny - and we should thank them for all they did.

"Others haven't been selected and I have met them and explained the reasons why as we look for the next player to step up in that position to take us forward."

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care had been in line for a recall after missing the World Cup through injury but he has been suspended for the tournament following his arrest on suspicion of drink driving.

Andrew Sheridan and Richard Wigglesworth were not considered due to long-term injury and Lancaster has already had to make some temporary changes to his squad.

Bath lock Dave Attwood, Saracens full-back Alex Goode, Leicester second row Geoff Parling and Gloucester centre Henry Trinder will join the elite squad as temporary replacements for Flood, Courtney Lawes, Louis Deacon and Manu Tuilagi, who are all set to miss the start of the Six Nations.

Lancaster will name his captain at the end of England's pre-Six Nations training week, which begins on January 23 at West Park Leeds rugby club.

England open the defence of their title against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 4.

Lancaster told a press conference broadcast on Sky Sports News: "We've got a fantastic opportunity here - a new group of players, lots of people who have been desperate for this chance.

"We have to pull together as a team quickly.

"We are at the start of a new era."

Lancaster also put a strong emphasis on leadership and expects a number of players to emerge as contenders for the captaincy.

"The most important thing for me is to get the leadership group right.

"It is a new group - they need to step up and take the lead.

"There are good, good leaders, talented players.

"We want a leadership group that is strong.

"The ultimate aim is for the players to shape the culture and drive the programme."

Lancaster admitted there had been some difficult choices with a number of established players failing to make the cut.

However, he felt change was necessary going forward, saying: "I always felt January 2012 was going to be a defining moment for the future.

"We've picked a side that is talented, that is committed to where we want to be at the top of the game.

"Some players have retired recently, some haven't been selected but I spoke to them and said the door is not shut.

"But we want to be the best and beat the best.

"The players are excited, we think it's a tremendous opportunity for us going forward to build a squad that has potential for now and potential for the future.

"The new lads coming in have proved themselves in big games for their clubs so I am very comfortable."

Assistant coach Graham Rowntree added: "There won't be a lot of change in coaching techniques.

"I want the lads excited and energised playing for England again."

 

England's 32-man elite player squad for the RBS 6 Nations championship:

Forwards - M Botha (Saracens), C Clark (Northampton Saints), A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), P Dowson (Northampton Saints), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), L Mears (Bath Rugby), B Morgan (Scarlets), T Palmer (Stade Francais), C Robshaw (Harlequins), M Stevens (Saracens), R Webber (London Wasps), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), T Wood (Northampton Saints).

Backs - C Ashton (Northampton Saints), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton Saints), O Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Foden (Northampton Saints), C Hodgson (Saracens), J Simpson (London Wasps), C Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), D Strettle (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

England Saxons 32-man squad for fixtures against the Ireland Wolfhounds (January 28) and Scotland A (Galashiels):

Forwards - *D Attwood (Bath Rugby), C Brooker (Harlequins), P Doran Jones (Northampton Saints), M Garvey (London Irish), J Gaskell (Sale Sharks), J Gibson (London Irish), J Gray (Harlequins), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), J Launchbury (London Wasps), M Mullan (Worcester Warriors), L Narraway (Gloucester Rugby), D Paice (London Irish), *G Parling (Leicester Tigers), G Robson (Harlequins), A Saull (Saracens), H Thomas (Sale Sharks), T Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), N Wood (Gloucester Rugby).

Backs - N Abendanon (Bath Rugby), A Allen (Leicester Tigers), D Armitage (London Irish), M Banahan (Bath Rugby), F Burns (Gloucester Rugby), K Dickson (Harlequins), *A Goode (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), R Lamb (Northampton Saints), J May (Gloucester Rugby), U Monye (Harlequins), *H Trinder (Gloucester Rugby), B Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers), M Young (Leicester Tigers).

*denotes players who are providing temporary injury cover in the elite squad.

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