Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Duo retain England squad places

Chris Ashton has been named in England's 33-man senior elite player squad

Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley have retained their places in England's senior elite player squad and are joined by six new faces.

Lock Dave Attwood, flanker Matt Kvesic, number eight Billy Vunipola, centre Kyle Eastmond and wings Christian Wade and Marland Yarde have been added to the 33 announced by head coach Stuart Lancaster.

All six apart from Vunipola have been rewarded for their outstanding form during the summer tour to Argentina, while Vunipola is included at the expense of Thomas Waldrom on account of his potential.

Calum Clarke, Tom Johnson, James Haskell, Waldrom, Jonathan Joseph and David Strettle have dropped down to the 32-strong Saxons squad.

Lancaster has opted to keep Ashton, one of five high-profile players rested for the Argentina tour, despite his poor form in the RBS 6 Nations as one of three wings.

Experience has helped the 26-year-old remain among the 33 as Wade and Yarde have a solitary cap each, won against the Pumas in June, in a position that lacks depth.

"This was the toughest EPS selection we've had to make with fierce competition for places in every area of the squad after an excellent summer for England players at all levels," Lancaster said.

"Christian Wade and Marland Yarde brought their outstanding Aviva Premiership form to the tour.

"Kyle Eastmond showed his potential and by including him in the squad we get a chance to work with him some more as we build towards the autumn.

"Up front, David Attwood adds a physical presence to the second row and in Matt Kvesic and Billy Vunipola we have young back-row players who will challenge our more established back-row players hard."

Lancaster's patience with Hartley has yet to be exhausted despite the Northampton hooker being suspended until September 1 for his latest encounter with the disciplinary authorities.

Hartley received an 11-week ban after he was sent off for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in last season's Aviva Premiership final.

Lancaster has discussed the matter at length with Hartley and was reassured by the 27-year-old's contrition.

"I had a long hard think about it and a long conversation with him. I wanted to be reassured that he understands where the line is, what is right and what is wrong," Lancaster said.

"He accepts that and knows he needs a strong start to the season with Northampton as changes can be made with Rob Webber and David Paice pushing hard.

"Unfortunately, we can only have 33 in the Senior EPS but those who just missed out have plenty to offer.

"They are still very much in the international picture and there is flexibility built into the system that facilitates that."

England are expected to name their captain for the autumn internationals against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand in October.

England senior elite player squad:

Forwards (17): D Attwood (Bath), D Cole (Leicester), A Corbisiero (Northampton), T Croft (Leicester), D Hartley (Northampton), M Kvesic (Gloucester), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester), G Parling (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins), B Vunipola (Saracens), M Vunipola (Saracens), D Wilson (Bath), T Wood (Northampton), T Youngs (Leicester).

Backs (16): C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins), F Burns (Gloucester), D Care (Harlequins), L Dickson (Northampton), O Farrell (Saracens), T Flood (Leicester), B Foden (Northampton), A Goode (Saracens), K Eastmond (Bath), M Tuilagi (Leicester), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester), C Wade (Wasps), M Yarde (London Irish), B Youngs (Leicester).

England Saxons squad:

Forwards (17): C Clark (Northampton), J Crane (Leicester), P Doran Jones (Harlequins), W Fraser (Saracens), J Haskell (Wasps), T Johnson (Exeter), G Kitchener (Leicester), G Kruis (Saracens), K Myall (Wasps), D Paice (London Irish), G Robson (Harlequins), E Slater (Leicester), H Thomas (Sale), T Waldrom (Leicester), L Wallace (Harlequins), R Webber (Bath), N Wood (Gloucester).

Backs (15): A Allen (Leicester), L Burrell (Northampton), E Daly (Wasps), G Ford (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), J May (Gloucester), U Monye (Harlequins), S Myler (Northampton), J Nowell (Exeter), C Sharples (Gloucester), J Simpson (Wasps), D Strettle (Saracens), M Tait (Leicester), J Tomkins (Saracens), R Wigglesworth (Saracens).

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