- Fylde fly half replaces suspended Baldwin
- Counties forced to reshuffle pack for trip to France
Fylde fly half Chris Johnson will captain the England Counties XV against the France Federale XV at Nevers on Friday, January 31 (8pm).
Johnson takes over the captaincy from Wharfedale No. 8 Rob Baldwin who will miss the trip to France having been suspended for one week by an RFU disciplinary panel last night for receiving three yellow cards for foul play during the season.
Johnson has previous captaincy experience of the England Counties XV having led the side in one of their matches on last summer’s tour to Belgium.
The Counties XV have been forced to reshuffle their squad with three more forwards withdrawing because of injuries or unavailability.
Blackheath prop Bertie Haskins replaces Alex Penney (Henley) and Tynedale tight head Matt Shields comes in for Alex Mackenzie of Rosslyn Park with Gavin Jones of Blaydon taking the place of injured Sam Shires (Rosslyn Park).
Baldwin’s place goes to Mark McCraith of Bishop’s Stortford.
Rosslyn Park scrum half Matt Heeks and Coventry centre Luke Myring have been called up to fill two gaps in the back division.
Heeks has previous England Counties XV experience but Haskins, Jones, McCraith, Shields and Myring are all newcomers taking the number of new caps in the squad to 13.
England Counties XV will play their second match of the season against Ireland Clubs XV at Darlington Mowden Park’s Northern Echo Arena on Friday February 21 (7.30pm).
England Counties XV squad v France Federale XV.
Jack Adams (Cinderford)
Richard Bolt (Exmouth)
Chris Briers (Fylde)
Matt Heeks (Rosslyn Park)
Chris Johnson (Fylde – captain)
Cameron Mitchell (Darlington Mowden Park)
Luke Myring (Coventry)
Kiba Richards (Worthing)
Sean Taylor (Preston Grasshoppers)
Jim Wigglesworth (Cambridge)
Jamal Ford-Robinson (Cambridge)
Berie Haskins (Blackheath)
Ben Hilton (Launceston)
Gavin Jones (Blaydon)
Robbie Kalbriaer (Blaydon)
Johnny Matthews (Sedgley Park)
Mark McCraith (Bishop’s Stortford)
Brett McNamee (Old Albanians)
Pierce Phillips (Darlington Mowden Park)
Matt Shields (Tynedale)
Robbie Stapley (Henley Hawks)
Tom Stradwick (Blackheath)
Chris Wearmouth (Blaydon)