Uncapped centre trio in England squad
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) stands with the British Lions Rugby Union team for a photocall on the steps of number 10, Downing Street on September 16, 2013 in London, England. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEALEngland coach Stuart Lancaster responded to a midfield injury crisis by including a trio of uncappped centres in his squad announced Wednesday for next month’s Twickenham internationals against Australia, Argentina and world champions New Zealand.
Gloucester’s Henry Trinder, Saracens’ former rugby league star Joel Tomkins and Northampton’s in-form Luther Burrell were all included in a 34-man squad after injuries deprived Lancaster of Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt, who starred in England’s shock 38-21 win over the All Blacks at Twickenham last year.
They will compete for midfield spots along with Billy Twelvetrees and Kyle Eastmond.
Trinder’s selection was especially eye-catching after he was omitted from both the elite player squad (EPS) and the reserve Saxons squad named in August.
But his strong start to the season has seen Trinder force his way in.
Also selected was five-times capped Exeter flanker Tom Johnson, brought in after Tom Croft was ruled out following knee surgery.
Speaking at Lloyd’s of London, Lancaster said: “We have been looking forward to this QBE Internationals series ever since we got back from Argentina (where a second-string England side deprived of their British and Irish Lions players as well as rested captain Chris Robshaw won a two-match series 2-0 in June).
“As a coaching group we have watched a lot of rugby and we are pleased with the form of the squad. The camp is an important part of our preparation and we are looking forward to meeting up.
“Inevitably there have been some injuries and there is still a big European (club) weekend ahead.
“But injures always create opportunities and we are pleased to call up Tom Johnson, Joel Tomkins, Henry Trinder and Luther Burrell into the Senior EPS, with Luther joining us as injury cover so it will be great for him to come in and put a marker down in what is going to be a competitive selection leading into the Australia game.
“We have three major Tests ahead of us and we are looking forward to the challenge,” Lancaster added.
Lancaster also confirmed prop Alex Corbisiero, who scored the Lions’ opening try in their 2-1 series-clinching third Test win over Australia, in July, was struggling with a knee injury.
But the coach has yet to rule the Northampton front-row out of England’s end-of-year opener against a struggling Wallaby side on November 2.
“Everyone is optimistically hoping he will come through and be available for some if not all the games,” Lancaster said.
“At the moment, having had fluid drained off the knee, he will have a period of rehab that covers this week and leading into next week.
“We’ll give him plenty of time but we’ll do what’s right for Alex. We have a really strong group at loosehead with Mako Vunipola and Joe Marler. We’ll see how it goes with Alex.” After playing the Wallabies, England will face the Pumas (November 9) and the All Blacks (November 16) on successive weekends at Twickenham.