Northampton forward Calum Clark recalled to England squad for Six Nations
Stuart Lancaster names squad for upcoming tournament
Wednesday 09 January 2013
Northampton forward Calum Clark has been recalled to the England squad for the RBS 6 Nations after serving a 32-week ban for breaking the elbow of an opponent.
Clark, who was on the fringes of the national team this time last year, is one of two uncapped players in the 33-man squad along with Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees.
Joe Launchbury, Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola and Freddie Burns have all been formally promoted into the senior squad after impressing during England's autumn international campaign.
England's search for a left wing has led to a return for David Strettle in place of Charlie Sharples, who is more at home on the right, and James Haskell has replaced Phil Dowson in the back row.
Youngs has taken the place of injured Bath hooker Rob Webber, Launchbury has ousted Wasps team-mate Tom Palmer and Vunipola is an additional selection in an expanded 33-man squad.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster has dropped centres Anthony Allen and Jordan Turner-Hall for Burns and Twelvetrees. Clark has been preferred to Mouritz Botha.
The combative 23-year-old gives England options in both the back row and second row, offering the same versatility as his Northampton colleague Courtney Lawes.
Lancaster has been a long-time admirer of Clark's ability and he selected the Leeds academy graduate for last year's Six Nations squad.
But Clark's career was put on hold in March, when he pleaded guilty to breaking the elbow of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins in the LV= Cup final.
Clark's ban ran from March 22 to November 1, ruling him out of England's summer tour plans and the QBE autumn international series but Lancaster has afforded him a second chance.
Twelvetrees has excelled in his first season at Gloucester, playing alongside Burns and both have been rewarded with their first formal call-ups.
The two playmakers trained with England during the autumn and Burns made an eye-catching debut off the bench in the 38-21 victory over New Zealand.
Burns, Launchbury, Vunipola and Youngs were all technically injury replacements when they were capped in the autumn series but they have now been formally selected.
Tom Croft has been included after overcoming a career-threatening neck injury but he is unlikely to feature in the Six Nations, with medics closely managing his return to action.
As a result, Vunipola's younger brother Billy, the dynamic Wasps number eight, will train with England in their pre-Six Nations camp in Leeds later this month.
Strettle returns to provide options on the left wing, which has been Lancaster's problem position. Full-backs Mike Brown and Ben Foden have both been used there in recent Tests.
Sharples started in the 11 jersey against Australia but he drops down to the England Saxons, where he will find competition from Wasps wing Christian Wade and Bath's former rugby league star Kyle Eastmond.
The Saxons squad includes another converted league player in Saracens' centre Joel Tomkins.
The Saxons play the Irish Wolfhounds on January 25 and Scotland A in Newcastle on February 1.
ancaster is confident Clark has learned a harsh lesson from the Hawkins incident and that he has both the temperament and the ability to succeed at the highest level.
"He has had a tough lesson to learn and he has learned it," Lancaster said.
"I have watched his games closely, the first one being against Leicester. He has been harnessing the competitive nature he has got, which you want in players to win games, but he is channelling that in the right way.
"He has had tough lessons to learn. I have coached him since he was 14, I probably know him better than most.
"I know what he can offer. In addition to his desire to win, his versatility in the second row is an option for us. He is incredibly athletic and very good in the contact areas."
Burns enjoyed an eye-catching Test debut off the bench against the All Blacks and Lancaster has long been a fan of Twelvetrees, who offers defensive solidity at inside centre and a second play-making option.
"Their form for their club (is what has impressed me)," Lancaster said.
"They have performed well together. They each credit the other for their form.
"They are coming into very competitive positions. We have Toby Flood and Owen Farrell at 10 who have played well for us.
"Billy comes in against Brad Barritt, who has been exceptional in the autumn and for Saracens.
"It was a tight call between Billy Twelvetrees and Anthony Allen but we wanted to get a chance to work with Billy.
"We are really excited about this squad going forward."
Strettle has replaced Sharples as a specialist wing because of the form he has shown on the left for Saracens, although that does not necessarily spell the end of England using full-backs out wide.
Harlequins' Mike Brown was utilised there to great effect against the All Blacks while Lancaster considers Foden to be one of the best finishers in the country.
"The 33-man squad gives us depth," Lancaster said.
"The opportunity for David has come alongside a move to the left wing. We have Christian Wade (in the Saxons) pushing Chris Ashton very hard on the right wing.
"David has moved to left at Saracens and his form has been outstanding but Mike Brown was fantastic there against the All Blacks."
Lancaster is optimistic that full-back Alex Goode could be available at the start of, or early in, the Six Nations as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
Alex Corbisiero is "another couple of weeks" away from being fit as he struggles with an on-going knee injury.
England senior elite player squad:
Forwards - C Clark (Northampton Saints), A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (London Wasps), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), J Launchbury (London Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins), M Vunipola (Saracens), T Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), D Wilson (Bath Rugby), T Wood (Northampton Saints), T Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
Backs - C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), F Burns (Gloucester Rugby), D Care (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton Saints), O Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Foden (Northampton Saints), A Goode (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), D Strettle (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
England Saxons elite player squad:
Forwards - M Botha (Saracens), N Catt (Bath Rugby), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), P Doran Jones (Northampton Saints), P Dowson (Northampton Saints), W Fraser (Saracens), J Gray (Harlequins), G Kitchener (Leicester Tigers), S Knight (Gloucester Rugby), M Kvesic (Worcester Warriors), M Mullan (Worcester Warriors), D Paice (London Irish), T Palmer (London Wasps), G Robson (Harlequins), E Slater (Leicester Tigers), H Thomas (Sale Sharks), B Vunipola (London Wasps).
Backs - N Abendanon (Bath Rugby), A Allen (Leicester Tigers), T Biggs (Bath Rugby), E Daly (London Wasps), K Eastmond (Bath Rugby), G Ford (Leicester Tigers), G Lowe (Harlequins), J May (Gloucester Rugby), U Monye (Harlequins), J Simpson (London Wasps), C Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), J Tomkins (Saracens), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), C Wade (London Wasps), R Wigglesworth (Saracens).
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