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Chuter to skipper Saxons on Saturday

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Tigers hooker George Chuter will captain England Saxons when they face Ireland A in the pool stages of the Barclays Churchill Cup this Saturday.

The 31-year-old hooker, who has 21 senior caps to his name, is joined by fellow Tigers Ollie Smith and Jordan Crane in the starting XV, with Richard Blaze named among the replacements.

Having put in a superb performance at No8 in the crushing win over the USA last weekend, Crane moves to the blindside flank, with Harlequins' Tom Guest taking over at the base of the scrum.

Saxons coach Steve Bates has made five personnel and two positional changes for England's second game of the competition.

“George has been a very influential figure, he’ll lead from the front," said Bates.

"But he’s got others around him that will help him do that, Chris Jones and Ollie Smith being two good examples.

“With Nick Lloyd going home, there were a couple of changes forced on us. We’ve tried to keep the balance between having some continuity from the USA game and making sure that we give some more players an opportunity.

“But we’ve resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes. There are some elements where we’ve tried to get things right for this opposition, a case of horses for courses.”

Up front, Bristol Rugby prop Alex Clarke replaces the injured Lloyd, while Chris Jones switches from the blindside flank to lock. 

In a new look back row, Steffon Armitage makes his first start for the Saxons in place of Will Skinner.

The only changes to the backline that ran in eight tries against the USA see Ugo Monye (Harlequins) and Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby) promoted from the bench.

“Steff’s had a very good season and I think the breakdown against Ireland will be crucial. His role is very specific to this game and I think he’ll do a good job for us. Ugo and Nick we felt both deserved a chance to show what they can do." 

Bates knows that victory against the Irish second string will secure a place in next Saturday’s final against Scotland A in Chicago and the chance to defend the title the Saxons won at Twickenham last year. 

Saturday's match against Ireland A takes place at Fletcher’s Field in Toronto, with kick off set for 7.05pm UK time. The game is being televised live on Sky Sports 1.

England Saxons team to play Ireland A

15. Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)*
14. Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
13. Ollie Smith (Leicester Tigers)*
12. Anthony Allen (Gloucester Rugby)*
11. Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
10. Ryan Lamb (Gloucester Rugby)
9. Paul Hodgson (London Irish)*

1. Alex Clarke (Bristol Rugby)
2. George Chuter (Leicester Tigers, captain)*
3. Dave Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
4. George Skivington (London Wasps)
5. Chris Jones (Sale Sharks)*
6. Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)
7. Steffon Armitage (London Irish)
8. Tom Guest (Harlequins)


16. Andy Titterrell (Gloucester Rugby)*
17. Jack Forster (Gloucester Rugby)
18. Richard Blaze (Leicester Tigers)
19. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
20. Lee Dickson (Newcastle Falcons)
21. Adrian Jarvis (Harlequins)
22. Ben Foden (Sale Sharks)

* Denotes capped player