George Ford has been called up by England ahead of the Six Nations after Stuart Lancaster named his new EPS and Six Nations training squad today.
The Bath playmaker takes over from the out-of-form and France-bound Toby Flood and will compete with British and Irish Lion Owen Farrell and Northampton’s Stephen Myler, who has been named over Gloucester’s Freddie Burns, for the No.10 shirt.
Ford, who moved to the West Country last summer, has been in superb form recently but his last display against former club Leicester on Sunday, where he set up all of Bath’s three tries, is believed to have tipped the balance.
Ford is the sole change in the EPS, but with Manu Tuilagi, Christian Wade, Ben Foden and Marland Yarde all out injured, Lancaster has turned to youth to fill the void with England U20s World Champions Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell making the step up to the senior side and Gloucester’s Jonny May earning a recall.
In the midfield, Northampton’s Luther Burrell and Bath’s Kyle Eastmond are given another chance to impress.
In the forwards, Leicester’s Ed Slater stands in for the injured Geoff Parling with Exeter’s Tom Johnson filling the void left by Tom Croft.
Wasp Matt Mullan and Shark Henry Thomas also come into the squad with Alex Corbisiero and David Wilson on the sidelines.
Despite being injured, or out of form in Burns’ case, Tuilagi, Wade, Foden, Yarde, Parling, Croft, Corbisiero and Wilson have all been named in the EPS so they can be considered for the New Zealand tour this summer should they recover in time.
England start their Six Nations campaign with two away games, first against France in Paris on February 1 before travelling to Murrayfield for the Calcutta Cup the following week.
Lancaster said: “I am delighted for George (Ford) who is rewarded for his form for Bath and we are excited about including him in the Senior Elite Player Squad.
“We have kept changes to a minimum because we believe that this squad can take us forward into 2015 and we are hopeful that some of those injured may be available before the end of the Six Nations and certainly for the New Zealand tour.
“I have met Toby Flood several times and told him I really wanted him to stay at Leicester and play for England. He has made a lifestyle choice and we respect that but given the RFU’s policy of not selecting players based overseas save for exceptional circumstances it was important that we allow others such as George Ford to progress.
“Stephen Myler has a chance to lay down a marker when he trains with us while we have decided that Freddie Burns should get more international game time with the Saxons against the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds at Kingsholm on January 25, while Rob Webber and Richard Wigglesworth will give us some depth to our training.”
Both the Saxons squad, who will play against the Irish Wolfhounds on January 25 and Scotland A on January 31, and the U20s squad, who will be looking to retain their World title in New Zealand in June, have also been named.
England 35-man Six Nations Squad: David Attwood (Bath), Dan Cole (Leicester), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester), Tom Johnson (Exeter), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Matt Mullan (London Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Ed Slater (Leicester), Henry Thomas (Sale), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Rob Webber (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton), Tom Youngs (Leicester), Chris Ashton (Saracens), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton), Kyle Eastmond (Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Stephen Myler (Northampton), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Ben Youngs (Leicester), Anthony Watson (Bath), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens).
England EPS: David Attwood (Bath), Dan Cole (Leicester), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton), Tom Croft (Leicester), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Matt Kvesic (Gloucester), Joe Launchbury (London), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Geoff Parling (Leicester), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton), Tom Youngs (Leicester), Chris Ashton (Saracens), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Freddie Burns (Gloucester), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton), Kyle Eastmond (Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Ben Foden (Northampton), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Marland Yarde (London Irish), Ben Youngs (Leicester).
England Saxons: Nathan Catt (Bath), Calum Clark (Northampton), Will Collier (Harlequins), Sam Dickinson (Northampton), Dave Ewers (Exeter), Will Fraser (Saracens), James Haskell (London Wasps), Tom Johnson (Exeter), Graham Kitchener (Leicester), George Kruis (Saracens), Matt Mullan (London Wasps), David Paice (London Irish), George Robson (Harlequins), Ed Slater (Leicester), Henry Thomas (Sale), Luke Wallace (Harlequins), Rob Webber (Bath), Anthony Allen (Leicester), Luther Burrell (Northampton), Elliot Daly (London Wasps), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Jonny May (Gloucester), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Stephen Myler (Northampton), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Henry Slade (Exeter), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Mathew Tait (Leicester), Joel Tomkins (Saracens), Henry Trinder (Gloucester), Anthony Watson (Bath), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens).
England U20s: James Chisholm (Harlequins), Joel Conlon (Exeter), Tom Ellis (Bath), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Paul Hill (Leeds), Jonny Hill (Gloucester), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Gus Jones (London Wasps), Lewis Ludlow (Gloucester), Alex Lundberg (London Wasps), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester ugby), Will Owen (Leicester), Harry Rudkin (Leicester Tiers), Harry Thacker (Leicester), Scott Wilson (Newcastle), Tom Woolstencroft (Bath), Callum Braley (Bristol), Billy Burns (Gloucester), Tom Collins (Northampton), Nathan Earle (Saracens), Louis Grimoldby (Harlequins), Zach Kibirige (Newcastle), Aaron Morris (Bedford), Sam Olver (Northampton), Howard Packman (Northampton), Henry Purdy (Leicester), Harry Sloan (Harlequins), Tom Stephenson (Northampton), Max Stelling (Worcester), Nick Tompkins (Saracens) , Stuart Townsend (Exeter).
Video courtesy of Nick Heath @Rugbymedia
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