- Joe Lydon pleased with balance of England Under 20 squad
- Collective focus remains sustaining the success of English rugby – Lydon
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With England Under 20s in New Zealand hoping to defend the IRB Junior World Championship trophy they won in France last year, coaches Nick Walshe and Ian Peel will be eager to hit the ground running with Pool matches against Italy, Australia and Argentina, and head to All Blacks territory with a 28-man squad.
Forwards coach Peel said: “We’ve enjoyed our first few days in Auckland and have had our first contact session which blew away a few of the cobwebs – the key is to be as well prepared as we possibly can for that first game against Italy on June 2.
“The games come thick and fast and it will be a real squad effort if we are to progress in the competition. The forwards have been working hard and we had a good contact session working on the breakdown and defence skills. The players are taking ownership of various parts of the game, particularly the set-piece, which is great for their development.”
England were hit with injuries in the build-up with centre Tom Fowlie, hooker Harry Thacker and lock Jonny Hill all ruled out, but RFU Head of International Player Development Joe Lydon has explained that the changes present great opportunities for those coming it.
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He said: “It’s unfortunate for the players missing out but it will be an exciting experience and opportunity for those coming in as they’ll have a real chance to develop their game. Newcastle Falcons pair Zach Kibirige and Scott Wilson are two more who could have travelled but Zach picked up an injury on his Premiership debut against Gloucester, and it was decided that it would be best for Scott’s longer term development to remain in England.
“He already has Junior World Championship experience – and a winner’s medal – and we want to help produce England players who will go on to have prosperous international careers. We have, and continue, to work in partnership with Newcastle with the aim of doing what’s best to support Scott’s development in the hope in maximising his undoubted potential for club and country. While it’s important for England Under 20s to go to New Zealand and perform well – our collective focus remains securing and sustaining the success of English Rugby.”