OAs trio named in England U20 Junior World Championship squad

Old Albanian trio Maro Itoje, Nathan Earle and Nick Tompkins have been named in the England U20 squad to head to New Zealand for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship in Auckland.

Coaches Nick Walshe and Ian Peel will be hoping to defend the title they won last June in France, and have named seven players with previous JWC experience – including captain Callum Braley.

England kick-off their campaign on June 2 against Italy at the ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe before facing Australia on June 6 at the QBE Stadium, Auckland, before taking on Argentina on June 10, again at the QBE Stadium.

Head coach Walshe said: “We’re pleased with the balance and experience in this squad, and we are confident that they will perform well in each of our five matches.

“While England U20 are the holders of the trophy, this group hasn’t won anything – we enjoyed a successful Six Nations, and while it was disappointing not to win it, as a group we came on hugely. The key is to keep building on that momentum.”

Forwards coach Peel added: “Our focus is on that first game against Italy – we have a warm up match and a camp in Newcastle prior to flying out, but the plan is to build towards that opening match. The games come thick and fast in this tournament, we’ve got a very tough group but we’re excited by that challenge.”

Skipper Braley said: “It’s massively exciting to be heading to New Zealand to defend our title. Rugby is obviously huge over there and there will be some pressure on us, but we will use that as a positive and look to perform as best we can.”