England U20s have included five Leicester Tigers players in their Elite Player Squad for the 2017/18 season.
Forwards Joe Heyes and Sam Lewis, and backs Tom Hardwick, Jordan Olowofela and Ben White have been included in the 32-man squad to compete in the Six Nations and the World Rugby U20 Championship.
The squad includes 10 members of the group that reached the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia, eventually losing to New Zealand, including Alex Seville, Marcus Street, Henry Walker, Dino Lamb, Ben Earl, James Grayson, Will Butler, Gabriel Ibitoye, Ali Crossdale and Tom Parton.
Ben Curry, who was part of England’s senior squad that toured Argentina in the summer, is also named in the 32.
Eight members of the England U18 squad that toured South Africa in the summer have been selected with Heyes, Beck Cutting, James Scott, Josh Basham, Sam Moore, Tom Willis, Tom Seabrook and Fraser Dingwall all included.
Marcus Smith, Nick Isiekwe and currently injured Tom Curry, who are all still eligible to play for the U20s, are not included due to their involvement with the England senior squad.
England open their U20 Six Nations campaign against Italy (February 2) before a home game against Wales in Newcastle (February 9). They play Scotland in Edinburgh (February 23), France in Beziers (March 9) and will end their campaign against Ireland at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry (March 16).
The squad will come together for a training camp at Bisham Abbey Sports Centre from January 7 to 12 before the Six Nations begins.
Tigers’ lead academy coach Anthony Allen and former Tigers forwards coach Richard Blaze have joined the U20 set up as part of the coach development programme agreement signed between the RFU and Premiership Rugby along with Newcastle’s James Ponton.
Head coach Steve Bates said: “I think we’ve got a really exciting squad with players who have played a good amount of rugby.
“Our experienced players are going to be hugely influential as we don’t have much time together ahead of the Six Nations. The players who know what to expect will be important as they will have an impact on the playing style as well as getting the group together off the pitch and integrating everyone as quickly as possible.
“This is a new group of players with new coaches also so although we head into the Six Nations as defending champions we do not carry the pressure of that tag. We have a proud history in the tournament but we will be looking to create our own legacy with what is a new set up.
“There are a lot of good players who won’t be in the squad so that shows the strength in depth too.”
England U20 EPS Squad 2017/18
Josh Basham (London Irish)
Ben Curry (Sale Sharks)
Beck Cutting (Worcester Warriors)
Ben Earl (Saracens)
Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
Dino Lamb (Harlequins)
Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers)
Sam Moore (Sale Sharks)
Joe Morris (Worcester Warriors)
Gabriel Oghre (Wasps)
James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
Alex Seville (Gloucester)
Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
Toby Trinder (Northampton Saints)
Henry Walker (Gloucester)
Tom Willis (Wasps)
Rory Brand (London Irish)
Will Butler (Worcester Warriors)
Aaron Chapman (Bristol)
Ali Crossdale (Saracens)
Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
James Grayson (Northampton Saints)
Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
Ben Loader (London Irish)
Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Parton (London Irish)
Tom Seabrook (Gloucester)
Joe Snow (Exeter Chiefs)
Ben White (Leicester Tigers)
Matt Williams (London Irish)