- England Counties name 22 players to face Ireland Clubs and France Amateurs
- Group drawn from 13 National 1 and National 2 clubs
Photo: Getty Images
England Counties have thrown their selection net far and wide as they target their first win on Irish soil.
The squad – drawn from 13 National 1 and National 2 clubs – will play Ireland Club XV in Cork on Friday February 8 and will largely remain unchanged ahead of the second Spring International against France Amateurs at Ealing Trailfinders RFC on February 22.
The Counties achieved a record 34-16 victory against the Irish last year at Preston Grasshoppers but are yet to win over the sea having lost twice and drawn once since their first fixture there in 2007.
Five players faced the Irish in 2012 and bring experience to a squad which has 15 players looking to win their first cap.
Photo: Getty Images
Michael Old, England Counties Team Manager said: “Selection was very tough this season because of the quality of players throughout the leagues. We are very pleased with the squad, it looks strong in all areas with plenty of power and pace which we need to take on the Irish, as well as a great mix of experience.
“Owing to the demand that the league schedule places on clubs and players, with the agreement and support of all clubs we have limited selection to two players per club for the 22 man squad. Whilst this has without doubt been unfortunate on a few players, it has given the opportunity to others who deserve the recognition of their talent and form this season.”
England Counties Squad
Forwards: Dave Allen*^ (Blackheath); Tom Fidler (Cambridge); Mark George (Stourbridge); Matt Hall*^ (Blaydon); James Inglis (Esher); Billy Johnson* (Old Albanian); Robbie Kalbraier*^ (Blaydon); Alex Loney (Fylde); Sam Shires*^ (Ealing Trailfinders); Ollie Stedman (Tynedale); Will Warden (Richmond); Ben West (Cinderford).
Backs: Jack Adams (Cinderford); Lewis Barker (Coventry); Scott Barrow (Fylde); Nev Edwards (Rosslyn Park); Chris Elder (Esher); Matt Heeks (Rosslyn Park); Peter Hodgkinson*^ (Ealing Trailfinders); Will Hurrell (Stourbridge); Ollie Marchon (Old Albanian); Rory Teague* (Blackheath).
*Previous ECXV Cap (7 players)
^played v Ireland at Preston 2012 (5 players)
England Counties Fixtures
England Counties v Ireland Club XV (Friday, February 8) Cork, Ireland
England Counties v France Amateurs (Friday, February 22) Ealing Trailfinders RFC