Four Leicester Tigers players are included in the England Under-20s squad for the New Year.
Head coach Alan Dickens has named prop James Whitcombe, lock George Martin, scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet and full-back Freddie Steward from Tigers in a 32-man squad ahead of the Under-20s Six Nations. All four are making their first appearance at this level after coming through the Tigers Academy and national Under-18s ranks.
The squad will compete in the Six Nations Championship which begins next month as well as in this summer’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy.
They will meet at Bisham Abbey national sports centre this Sunday as they continue their preparations for the start of the Six Nations.
Dickens said: “Players have been selected through a combination of their performances last year and displays in domestic and European competitions this season. It’s been encouraging to see a number of the group playing Premiership, Champions Cup and Challenge Cup rugby and I believe we’ve selected a really strong 32 for our elite player squad.
“We also have a wider squad that we know will contribute and be crucial during the Six Nations as well as the World Rugby Under-20 Championship and my message to those players not in the 32 would be to stay fit and engaged with everything we are doing.
“We have less than a month to bond as a squad before our first Six Nations fixture so getting them to gel will be a key challenge for the players as well as management team. I also want players to enjoy themselves. Being selected for England at any level is a proud moment in their careers and they should remember that. Hopefully, this is the next step in their ultimate dream of playing for the senior side.”
England Under-20 Elite Player Squad
Alfie Barbeary (Wasps Rugby)
Harvey Beaton (Saracens)
Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs)
Jack Clement (Gloucester Rugby)
Sam Crean (Saracens)
Theodore Dan (Saracens)
Ben Donnell (London Irish)
Rob Farrar (Newcastle Falcons)
Josh Gray (Gloucester Rugby)
Luke Green (London Irish)
George Martin (Leicester Tigers)
Nahum Merigan (Bath Rugby)
Hugh Tizard (Harlequins)
JJ Tonks (Northampton Saints)
Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)
James Whitcombe (Leicester Tigers)
George Barton (Gloucester Rugby)
Joe Carpenter (Sale Sharks)
Tom Curtis (Sale Sharks)
Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks)
Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath Rugby)
Will Haydon-Wood (Newcastle Falcons)
Noah Heward (Worcester Warriors)
Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)
Max Ojomoh (Bath Rugby)
Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs)
Raphael Quirke (Sale Sharks)
Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks)
Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints)
Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)
Jack Van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers)
Manu Vunipola (Saracens)