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England U20s name side for JWC opener

England have named their team for the opening match of this year’s World Rugby U20s Championship against Samoa (10am BST) in Georgia.

London Irish fly-half Theo Brophy Clews captains the side, while two members of last year’s winning World Rugby U20 Championship squad – Max Malins and Harry Randall – are among the replacements.

Harlequins’ Dino Lamb, capped eight times at England U18s level, makes his debut in the second row.

After missing out on England’s U20s Six Nations Grand Slam through injury, Saracens’ Ali Crossdale returns to make his debut on the wing.

The match will be will be streamed live on http://www.worldrugby.org  with the highlights shown on ITV4 on Wednesday 31 May.

Head coach Ian Vass said: “We’ve picked a team we believe can do a job against Samoa, bearing in mind it’s a long tournament and everyone is going to have to play at some point,” said Vass.

“Samoa have a lot of talented individual players who can run and score from anywhere on the field. They are very strong physically, carrying and tackling.”

The squad arrived in Tbilisi on Saturday and Vass says the side are eager to get the tournament started.

He added: “We want to see the lads put into practice everything we’ve been working on with them since before Christmas.

“We want to see them playing together as a team and defending as a team also working as hard as they can. If they do that then we have some good players who can make things happen. Really we just want them to put in a performance they can be pleased with.”

Tour captain Zach Mercer is also named in the starting line-up, playing at number eight for England on Wednesday, and Vass says he expects the Bath forward to lead by example on Wednesday.

“Zach is one of more experienced players; he played in the tournament last year and has played a lot of Premiership games this year,” he said. “He talks a lot to the team and leads by example with his actions on the field.”

Vass, Louis Deacon and Tom Williams continue as England’s coaching team in Georgia, having joined the management as part of a new agreement with Premiership Rugby in which club coaches lead and develop the U20s while gaining experience in an international environment.

England will face familiar faces in their second fixture when they come up against Wales on Sunday 4 June.

Australia, who were in England’s pool last year, are the opposition for their final pool game on Thursday 8 June.

England U20s: Tom Parton (London Irish); Ali Crossdale (Saracens), Dominic Morris (Saracens), Will Butler (Worcester), Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins); Theo Brophy Clews (London Irish, capt.), Alex Mitchell (Northampton); Ollie Dawe (Bristol), Jamie Blamire (Newcastle), Marcus Street (Exeter); Josh Caulfield (Exeter); Dino Lamb (Harlequins); Max Davies (Newcastle), Josh Bayliss (Bath), Zach Mercer (Bath)

Replacements: Henry Walker (Gloucester), Alex Seville (Gloucester), Ciaran Knight (Gloucester), Justin Clegg (Worcester), Joe Mullis (Gloucester), Harry Randall (Gloucester), Max Malins (Saracens), Jacob Umaga (Wasps)

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