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Five Tigers in Under-20 squad

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Last season's England Under-18 captain George Ford is among a group of five Leicester Tigers named in England's Under-20 Elite Player Squad for the new season.

The 32-man squad will compete in the Under-20 RBS 6 Nations in the New Year before heading for the IRB Junior World Championship in Italy next June.

Nine of the group have already played at this level, though the newcomers include Tigers team-mates Ford, Manu Tuilagi, Ryan Bower, Jonny Harris and Matt Everard.

Rob Hunter takes over as head coach from Mark Mapletoft, and he is assited by Diccon Edwards who has joined the Rugby Football Union from Leeds Carnegie.

Hunter said: "It’s a very talented group, competition for places has been very high and there are some good players who missed out on a place in the 32 who will continue to push for inclusion. There’s a great blend of skill, pace and power and we can’t wait to see them wearing the England jersey.

"It’s an exciting time to be involved with a new management team and a new squad coming together. The England Under-18 team has set a standard of playing at pace in recent years and we are looking forward to building on that and the excellent work being done in the regional academies.

"The England age group programmes are a key part of developing future international players and the progress made by the likes of Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs into the England senior team last season is testimony to that."

Preparations for this season start with training camps in September, December and January before the Under-20 RBS 6 Nations kicks off against Wales in February.

RFU Head of Elite Player Development Stuart Lancaster said: "The goal is to develop players for the England senior side but the goal is also to win the Junior World Championship and this squad has the potential to do that. They can start by putting the foundations in place and acquiring that winning mentality during the Six Nations."

England U20 Elite Player Squad

Ryan Bower (Leicester Tigers)
Koree Britton (Gloucester Rugby)
Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
Will Collier (Harlequins)
Matt Everard (Leicester Tigers)
Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons)
Jonny Harris (Leicester Tigers)
Sam Jones (London Wasps)
Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors)
Addison Lockley (Exeter Chiefs)
Kieran Low (London Irish)
Charlie Matthews (Harlequins)
Ollie Stedman (Leeds Carnegie)
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Sam Twomey (Harlequins)
Billy Vunipola (London Wasps)
Mako Vunipola (Bristol Rugby)

Chris Cook (Bath Rugby)
Elliot Daly (London Wasps)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
George Ford (Leicester Tigers)
Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
Ryan Mills (Gloucester Rugby)
Ben Ransom (Saracens)
Dan Robson (Gloucester Rugby)
Jake Sharp (Saracens)*
Andy Short (Worcester Warriors)
Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Christian Wade (London Wasps)
Jack Wallace (Wasps)*
Marcus Watson (London Irish)
Marland Yarde (London Irish)