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Steward starts for England U20s

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Leicester Tigers full-back Freddie Steward starts for England Under-20s in the third round of the Six Nations this weekend.

Norfolk-born Steward retains his place in the No15 shirt for the clash with Grand Slam champions Ireland, to be played at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton this Friday (February 21, 7.45pm).

Elsewhere, England U20s head coach Alan Dickens makes six changes to the starting XV that recorded a 21-17 win over Scotland last time out.

Sam Crean (Saracens) comes into the front row for a first cap with fellow prop Luke Green (London Irish) returning to the starting line-up. Harlequins lock Hugh Tizard starts his first game of the U20s Six Nations, as does flanker Josh Gray (Gloucester Rugby).

George Barton (Gloucester Rugby) comes in at fly-half, while centre Charlie Watson (Saracens) wins a first cap at this level.

England U20s have won their opening two fixtures, sealing a bonus-point over France in Grenoble, as well as a victory over Scotland in Edinburgh. Ireland themselves have two bonus-point wins over Scotland and Wales and sit top of the table, a point ahead of England.

Dickens said: “Friday sees us come up against a strong Ireland side who are also unbeaten in this year’s tournament and who are the U20s Grand Slam champions, so we know how tough a challenge it is going to be.

“For us, it’s all about building through the tournament and improving with each game and that is what I want to see on Friday.

“A feature of our opening two games has been the squad’s ability to be clinical and control the game at key periods, but also their spirit and we know that will be important on Friday.

“We’ve made changes so this is a great chance for those players to show how good they are and stake a claim for their rest of the Championship. We have some players unavailable due to club commitments so that is a great opportunity for them to get experience playing Premiership Rugby and will no doubt aid their development as future senior professionals.”

Live coverage of Friday’s game will be shown on Sky Sports Mix.

Tigers fly-half Sam Costelow, meanwhile, continues in the No10 shirt for Wales Under-20s as they host France on Friday evening.

England U20s team to play Ireland (Friday, February 21, kick-off 7.45pm)

15 Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers), 14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb (Bath Rugby), 13 Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks), 12 Charlie Watson (Saracens), 11 Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks), 10 George Barton (Gloucester Rugby), 9 Sam Maunder (c) (Exeter Chiefs); 1 Sam Crean (Saracens), 2 Theo Dan (Saracens), 3 Luke Green (London Irish), 4 Hugh Tizard (Harlequins), 5 George Hammond (Harlequins), 6 Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), 7 Josh Gray (Gloucester Rugby), 8 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs).

Replacements: 16 Ben Atkins (London Irish), 17 Emmanuel Iyogun (Northampton Saints), 18 Harvey Beaton (Saracens), 19 Chunya Munga (London Irish), 20 Rob Farrar (Newcastle Falcons), 21 Blake Boyland (Bristol Bears), 22 Will Haydon-Wood (Newcastle Falcons), 23 Max Ojomoh (Bath Rugby).