England U20 make six changes

Date published: June 19 2016

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England coach Martin Haag has made six changes to his starting XV for Monday’s World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final with South Africa in Manchester.

Haag’s side head into the last four of the competition as the top seed with Ireland and Argentina contesting the other semi-final.

Max Malins is selected at full-back while wing Sam Aspland-Robinson and scrum-half Max Green also return to the side.

Prop Billy Walker and No 8 Callum Chick earn recalls, while Jack Singleton is named at hooker in place of the injured Jack Walker.

“Everyone is very excited in the camp, we set out our goals at the start of the tournament and we are achieving those goals,” said Haag.

“The challenge for us now is to keep improving and we are excited about the opportunity to play South Africa in a home semi-final. The players have been absolutely superb and we need to make sure we come out the other side with a victory.”

Harry Mallinder will captain England on Monday in place of Jack Walker who has been medically replaced after sustaining a concussion during England’s game against Australia on 15 June.  

The hooker will remain in camp while going through the graduated return to play protocol with his place in the squad taken by Charlie Piper (Harlequins).

“It’s with great disappointment that Jack will not feature in the semi-final,” said Haag.

“Jack has been an exemplary leader, bringing the team together and motivating the players to be the best that they can be, both on and off the pitch. That’s something he should be very proud of.

“We have great confidence in Charlie (Piper) who now joins the squad. Charlie narrowly missed out on taking part in the Six Nations due to injury but was involved in the pre-tournament training camp in Newcastle. He will benefit from getting an opportunity to gain experience from playing at this level.”

Elsewhere, Joe Marchant and Johnny Williams again make up England’s centre pairing with Lewis Boyce joining Singleton and Billy Walker in the front row.

Stan South and Huw Taylor remain in the second-row while George Nott and Will Evans make up England’s backrow alongside Chick.

“There are 28 guys in the squad who have trained brilliantly so to leave anyone out is tough,” said Haag. “I’ve been delighted with how everyone has had game time and gelled together in such a short space of time.”

Haag is expecting a “physical” and “direct” approach from South Africa and has urged his side to raise to that challenge."There is no better feeling for those players standing on that pitch and singing the national anthem with a full stadium behind them"

He added: “In attack we need to be sharp, clinical and take the opportunities that come our way. We are anticipating a big battle as you would expect in a semi-final.

“We need to execute better, we need to set our own identity and play to a level that we aspire to.”

Haag also believes home support can further inspire his side to make next weekend’s World Rugby U20 Championship final.

“The players are hugely motivated about playing in a home semi-final which is a once in a life-time opportunity for them at this level,” he said.

“In all the matches we have played the support for us has been huge, the fans have been absolutely superb.

"We want to make that stadium a fortress for us and there is no better feeling for those players standing on that pitch and singing the national anthem with a full stadium behind them.”

England U20: 15 Max Malins, 14 Sam Aspland-Robinson, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Matt Gallagher, 10 Harry Mallinder (c), 9 Max Green, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Evans, 6 George Nott, 5 Huw Taylor, 4 Stan South, 3 Billy Walker, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Lewis Boyce 
Replacements: 16 Charlie Piper, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Max Wright, 23 Ollie Thorley

Date: Monday, June 20
Venue: Manchester City Academy Stadium, Manchester
Kick-off: 19.45 BST (18.45 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Thomas Charabas (France), Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Paul Adams (England)

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