- Coach Fletcher wary of Wallaby threat
- New Under 18 line-up facing stiff test
Photo: Getty Images
England Under 18 coach John Fletcher is under no illusions about the size of the challenge facing his side when they take on Australia Schools at Sale FC’s Heywood Road headquarters on Sunday (December 13, 2pm).
The junior Wallabies conceded four tries to two in their opening game of a four-match tour at Lymm RFC yesterday, but a 27-12 victory for an England Regional Academies XV has not seduced Fletcher into underestimating the calibre of the tourists.
“There is no doubt that it will be a tougher game for the England lads simply because their opponents are an Under 19 squad and a year older,” said Fletcher.
“We’re also putting together a completely new squad and while our last outing brought a 45-13 victory over South Africa in Kimberley, the group of players on duty at Sale on Sunday will be quite different.
“That said, we have some very gifted players who will not relinquish their unbeaten run of 17 games without a struggle. Australia, in contrast, will remember our last reverse, an 11-3 defeat the last time the teams met in 2007 at Ballymore, and will be keen to repeat that success and get their tour back on track after yesterday’s opening defeat at Lymm.”
While Saracens fly-half Jake Sharp, who has played Guinness Premiership rugby for his club, was the centre of attention at Lymm – and justified that focus with a try, two conversions and a penalty – on Sunday the presence of Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford is bound to be of special interest.
He recently made his first-team debut for the Welford Road club at the age of 16 and in doing so became the youngest player ever to appear in a professional club game.
England Under 18 squad:
Forwards - Nick Auterac (Oaklands College & Saracens), Dominic Barrow (Prince Henry's GS & Leeds Carnegie), Ant Brennan (Twyford C of E & London Wasps), Koree Britton (Ivybridge College & Exeter Chiefs), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Truro College & Exeter Chiefs), Matt Kvesic (Worcester 6th Form College & Worcester Warriors), George Merrick (Whitgift & Harlequins), Nathan Morris (Sedbergh & Newcastle Falcons), Sam Northcote-Green (Dulwich College & London Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Epsom College & Harlequins), Sam Twomey (Dulwich College & Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Harrow & London Wasps), Chris Walker (Prince Henry's GS & Leeds Carnegie).
Backs - Tommy Bell (Sale Sharks), Elliott Daly (Whitgift & London Wasps), Jamie Elliott (Bedford & Northampton Saints), George Ford (Rishworth & Leicester Tigers), Joel Hodgson (RGS Newcastle & Newcastle Falcons), Mark Jennings (Lymm HS & Sale Sharks), Ben Ransom (Tonbridge & Saracens), Dan Robson (Hartpury College & Gloucester), Charlie Walker (Oakham & Leicester Tigers), Marland Yarde (Whitgift & London Irish).