England Saxons have named their squad to take on South Africa ‘A’ ahead of the first game at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The starting XV features a wealth of senior England experience, with a total of 60 caps shared among the side, led by captain Dave Attwood. Ollie Devoto and Tommy Taylor, who both came off the bench to gain their first England caps in the recent Old Mutual Wealth Cup against Wales, are among the names starting on Friday.
“We’re really pleased with how the group is progressing together. We’re developing the players, which is key to this tour, and we now want to see how they perform on the international stage,” said head coach Ali Hepher.
“Friday night offers us a fantastic challenge and this game will tell us where we’re at, what we’ve got to work on and improve, and to see the strengths the guys have on the field.
“We want to see a team that doesn’t hold back, that is fearless in the way it puts itself out there, but is also very accurate, playing smart rugby with or without the ball.”
The squad arrived in South Africa on Wednesday, 1 June and have spent the past week training at the Sharks’ Kings Park Stadium in Durban, before they fly on to Bloemfontein on Thursday.
Hepher added: “We’ve given the players a basic structure through which they are able to express themselves and be the players they are. It has also been key to bond the side and the guys are leading on those activities on and off field. It is great to see them taking responsibility for the whole tour.”
The side play South Africa ‘A’ twice, with their second game taking place at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday, 17 June.
England Saxons: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Semesa Rokoduguni, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sam Jones, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Don Armand, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Dave Attwood (c), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Micky Young, 22 Sam James, 23 Christian Wade
Date: Friday, June 10
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Jaco Kotze (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)