Sam Burgess included in England Saxons squad

Sam Burgess is expected back in the Bath line up this weekend

The England Saxons have included Bath’s rugby league convert Sam Burgess in their squad to face the Ireland Wolfhounds in Cork on 30 January.

Burgess has played just five first-team games for the West Country side but has made a strong start in his limited time in rugby union.

The 26 year-old arrived in union as arguably the finest rugby league player in the world after leading South Sydney Rabbitohs to the NRL title in 2014 and has impressed in Bath’s charge to second in the Aviva Premiership table.

Saracens’ 20 year-old lock Maro Itoje, captain of England’s Under 20s Junior World Championship winning side last June and also skipper of Saracens Storm’s recent Aviva A League triumph, makes a first appearance in the second-string squad too.

There is an experienced feel to Jon Callard’s group, with many Test performers from the QBE Internationals last November present.

Newcastle Falcons tight head Kieran Brookes, Wasps loose head Matt Mullan, Bath Rugby’s Rob Webber are available in the front row, while British and Irish Lions flanker Tom Croft makes a welcome return to the international fold.

Chris Ashton, Marland Yarde and Christian Wade are included as options on the wing, alongside precocious Exeter Chiefs fly half Henry Slade.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster will be at the Friday night match at the Irish Independent Park and said players can force their way into contention for Six Nations inclusion.

He said,”The match against the Wolfhounds in Cork gives us a great opportunity to take a look at a group of players who are right on the edge of the senior squad.

“And we also have the likes of David Strettle and Freddie Burns, who are very much in our thinking as options going forward.”

England Saxons squad

Forwards

Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Christian Day (Northampton Saints)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs)
Matt Garvey (Bath Rugby)
Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks)
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby)
Matt Mullan (Wasps)
Henry Thomas (Bath Rugby)
Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs)
Alex Waller (Northampton Saints)
Rob Webber (Bath Rugby)

Backs

Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Sam Burgess (Bath Rugby)
Elliot Daly (Wasps)
Ollie Devoto (Bath Rugby)
Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, captain)
Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors)
Joe Simpson (Wasps)
Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Marland Yarde (Harlequins)
Christian Wade (Wasps)

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