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Blaze elevated to England squad for autumn

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Second-row forward Richard Blaze is among eight Leicester Tigers players called up to the revised England elite squad ahead of the autumn internationals.

The 24-year-old former Moseley and Worcester lock has been capped through the age groups and by England Saxons, and trained with the senior squad last autumn, but he is yet to gain a first senior cap.

Blaze is joined in Martin Johnson’s squad by Tigers team-mates George Chuter, Jordan Crane, Tom Croft, Louis Deacon, Dan Hipkiss, Ben Kay and Lewis Moody.

Tigers head coach Richard Cockerill said: “Richard is a very good player and he has worked hard to get back from his injury problems last season. He is in a very competitive position in the Tigers squad and now he has an opportunity to work within the England set-up.”

Prop Julian White was denied the opportunity to add to his 51 caps after picking up a hamstring injury on Saturday, while Toby Flood, Sam Vesty and Harry Ellis are also unavailable.

But there is a welcome return for 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Moody, who has been in impressive form.

“Lewis has been playing really well,” said Cockerill.

“I think he has been the heartbeat of the Tigers team over the last few weeks. He is a guy to put his heart on the line for you.

“He is a quality player, he has been there and done it all, and England might need that bit of experience around. He is fighting fit and playing well.”

Moody is among the senior men in the squad after earning the first of his 53 caps in 2001.

England teJohnson has named Saracens lock Steve Borthwick as captain ahead of the Investec Challenge Series matches against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.

Johnson said: "The whole squad is looking forward to three very tough games. We've had to make a number of changes to the Senior EPS because of injuries but we have strength in depth and each of the players coming in has the opportunity to push themselves into contention for the first Investec Challenge match against Australia on November 7."

England Senior EPS squad
Steffon Armitage (London Irish)
*David Barnes (Bath Rugby)
Duncan Bell (Bath Rugby)
*Richard Blaze (Leicester Tigers)
Steve Borthwick (Saracens, captain)
George Chuter (Leicester Tigers)
Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
James Haskell (Stade Francais)
Ben Kay (Leicester Tigers)
*Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers)
Tim Payne (London Wasps)
Steve Thompson (CA Brive)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Joe Worsley (London Wasps)

Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks)
Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
Shane Geraghty (Northampton Saints)
Andy Goode (CA Brive)
Dan Hipkiss (Leicester Tigers)
Paul Hodgson (London Irish)
Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
David Strettle (Harlequins)
Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks)
Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby)
Richard Wigglesworth (Sale Sharks)
Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)

*Uncapped player