- Toe injury rules out Esher lock
- Manager Hodgson still confident fo getting a positive result
England Counties XV selectors have made one change to their squad from which the side to face the AIB Irish Club XV at Stourbridge RFC tomorrow week (February 26, 7.30) will be chosen.
Esher lock James Inglis has withdrawn through injury after damaging his toe against London Scottish and he is replaced in the squad by Blackheath’s Tom Bason.
Bason, who captains the Rectory Field club, made his debut for the Counties XV in France in 2007 and played last season in games against the AIB Ireland Club XV and France Amateurs.
Manager Danny Hodgson is keeping his fingers crossed that the loss of Inglis is the only casualty after another weekend of matches, but he remains confident that the selectors have pulled together a strong squad.
"I think we are as good as we can be and that we have another very strong group of players," he said.
"That said, we’re going to need to be at our best because Ireland draw from a slightly higher level and present a real challenge.
"Of course in this situation, you are always anxious that the players come through their club games unscathed on Saturday, so I’m hoping the phone isn’t ringing on Saturday evening.
"Otherwise, there’s the annual excitement of meeting with a new bunch of players and seeing them working together and playing under the Counties banner, many of them for the first time. That’s always a thrill."
England Counties XV squad:
Luke Baldwin (Blackheath & Kent), Tom Bason (Blackheath & Kent), James Brown (London Scottish), Darren Fox (Cambridge), Ben Gerry (Stourbridge & Warwickshire), Joe Graham (Tynedale & Cumbria), Ben Harris (Huddersfield & Yorkshire), Jack Harrison (Tynedale & Northumberland), Sam Heard (Redruth & Cornwall), David Howells (London Scottish), Seb Jewell (Esher & Surrey), Dan Legge (Cambridge & Essex), Frankie Neale (London Scottish & Kent), Matt Owen (Macclesfield & Cheshire), Steve Parsons (Harrogate & Yorkshire), Tom Powell (Cambridge), Tom Richardson (Stourbridge), Matt Riley (Sedgley Park & Lancashire), Sam Stitcher (Esher), Sam Ulph (Esher), Tom Warren (Esher & Kent), John Williams (Tynedale & Northumberland).