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Academy back-rower captains England in final fixture

Leicester Tigers Academy back-rower Emeka Ilione captains England Under-18s in their final fixture of the U18 International Series on Saturday.

The 17-year-old is one of seven starting players retained for the fixture against South Africa Schools this Saturday, August 17 (2.00pm), following Tuesday’s impressive 29-25 win over France.

Club mates Sam Edwards and Kit Smith – named at No8 – both return to the XV following starts in the first match against Argentina. Tigers Academy hooker Archie Vanes misses out through injury.

Mallinder said: “Ending the tour against the hosts is a really nice way to finish and I’m sure it will be a great experience for the players. South Africa are unbeaten which makes it even more of a test for us and the players are excited to take them on.

“Whenever you play a South African team it is always a very physical challenge. They have some big carriers, the forwards like to get around the corner and they test you defensively so it’s going to be a really tough encounter for the players but one they are relishing.

“We feel we’ve advanced over the past week or so, technically and tactically we have improved as a team and the players have really bonded off the field.

“This tour has been so important for the players’ development. We came together as 26 individuals and coaches and the tournament has allowed us to gel in a competitive environment and we’ve gradually improved and this third game will allow us to see how far we’ve come.”

Saturday's game is England’s final fixture of the U18 International Series, which serves as the start of the international season’s performance pathway. Kick-off from Hugenote High in Wellington is scheduled for 2.00pm.

England U18s to face South Africa Schools

15 Oliver Melville – Sale Sharks (Sedbergh School)
14 Matthew Ward – Newcastle Falcons (Gosforth Academy)
13 Will Joseph – London Irish (Millfield School)
12 Louis Hillman-Cooper – Gloucester Rugby (Cheltenham College)
11 Alex Harmes – London Irish (St Pauls College)
10 Orlando Bailey – Bath Rugby (Beechen Cliff School)
9 Sam Edwards – Leicester Tigers (Brooksby Melton College)
1 Phil Brantingham – Newcastle Falcons (RGS Newcastle)
2 John Stewart – Bath Rugby (Beechen Cliff School)
3 Fin Baxter – Harlequins (Wellington College)
4 Freddie Thomas – Gloucester Rugby (Dean Close School)
5 Ethan Staddon - Bath Rugby (Beechen Cliff School)
6 Emeka Ilione (captain) – Leicester Tigers (Rugby School)
7 Harry Taylor - Gloucester Rugby (Clifton College)
8 Kit Smith – Leicester Tigers (Oakham School)

Replacements
16 Tarek Haffar – London Irish (St Pauls College)
17 Joe Keohane – London Irish (St Pauls College)
18 Ewan Richards – Bath Rugby (Millfield School)
19 Daniel Eckersley – Wasps (Bloxham School)
20 Will Trenholm – Harlequins (Cranleigh School)
21 Sam Bryan – Saracens (Felsted School)
22 Ethan Grayson – Northampton Saints (Northampton School for Boys)
23 Michael Dykes – London Irish (St Pauls College)
24 Oscar Beard – Harlequins (Cranleigh School)
25 Charlie Atkinson – Wasps (Abingdon School)