England today announced the January 2012 Senior and England Saxons Elite Player Squads, with 15 changes compared to the squad of August 2011.
First time call-ups include: Saracens centres Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell, Northampton Saints’ Lee Dickson and Calum Clark, and Scarlets’ Ben Morgan.
Ten changes are allowed in a Rugby World Cup year over and above international retirements (Lewis Moody, Jonny Wilkinson, Steve Thompson) and long-term injuries (Andrew Sheridan and Richard Wigglesworth).
The squad will meet for their pre-RBS 6 Nations training camp on Monday, January 23, and use facilities around the North Leeds area, including West Park Leeds RUFC and weights facilities at the Leeds Rugby Academy at Kirkstall.
Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We are very excited by the make-up of the two squads. Lots of players have been putting their hands up and there were some tough calls to make. However,in line with the selection philosophy about starting new era for English rugby,we have taken the chance to make changes and give players opportunities to be part of the journey towards 2015. We very much see this as a group of 64, with opportunities for the Saxons playing in the forthcoming A internationals to come into the senior squad at any time.
“We have lost some great players who have worn the England shirt with pride and distinction – Lewis, Steve and Jonny – and we should thank them for all they did. Others haven’t been selected for this EPS cycle and I have met them and explained the reasons why as we look for the next player to step up in that position to take us forward.
“We are looking both at the present and just as importantly the future. We wanted to get the right balance in potential and experience and giving us the flexibility to play in different ways. We need to use the upcoming games to build the collective experience and we are confident we have got the right mix to take England forward into this Six Nations and beyond.”
Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby), Alex Goode (Saracens), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers) and Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby) will join the squad from the Saxons as temporary replacements for Courtney Lawes (knee), Toby Flood (knee), Louis Deacon (hamstring) and Manusamoa Tuilagi (hamstring).
England Saxons, who face O2 Ireland Wolfhounds at Sandy Park, Exeter on January 28 (17:00) and then Scotland A in Galashiels on February 3 (19:30), have an average age of 24 years, five months, with seven players under 21.
Coached by RFU National Academy coaches Jon Callard and Simon Hardy, the Saxons include 10 players who won the Churchill Cup last June as well as Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps) and Jonathan Joseph (London Irish) from the Under-20s squad which reached the final of the IRB Junior World Championship in the same month.
Temporary replacements for Attwood, Goode, Parling and Trinder and injury replacements for Thomas (knee) and Joseph (shoulder) will be announced in due course.
ENGLAND ELITE PLAYER SQUAD (32)
Mouritz Botha (Saracens)
Calum Clark (Northampton Saints)
Alex Corbisiero (London Irish)
Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers)
Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Lee Mears (Bath Rugby)
Ben Morgan (Scarlets)
Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
Matt Stevens (Saracens)
Rob Webber (London Wasps)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
Brad Barritt (Saracens)
Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints)
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
Charlie Hodgson (Saracens)
Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby)
David Strettle (Saracens)
Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
ENGLAND SAXONS EPS (32)
David Attwood (Bath Rugby)
Chris Brooker (Harlequins)
Paul Doran Jones (Northampton Saints)
Matt Garvey (London Irish)
James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)
Jamie Gibson (London Irish)
Joe Gray (Harlequins)
Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors)
Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby)
David Paice (London Irish)
Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers)
George Robson (Harlequins)
Andrew Saull (Saracens)
Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby)
Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)
Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers)
Delon Armitage (London Irish)
Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)
Karl Dickson (Harlequins)
Alex Goode (Saracens)
Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
Ryan Lamb (Northampton Saints)
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Ugo Monye (Harlequins)
Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby)
Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers)
Micky Young (Leicester Tigers)