Burgess to start for Saxons

Date published: January 29 2015

Bath centre Sam Burgess will make his international rugby union debut when England Saxons take on Ireland Wolfhounds in Cork on Friday.

The code-hopper will start at inside centre in one of the strongest Saxons sides selected in recent years.

He will be joined in the midfield by Elliot Daly (Wasps) with England Test internationals Chris Ashton (Saracens) and Marland Yarde (Harlequins) on the wings.

Worcester Warriors’ Chris Pennell, who made his England debut against the All Blacks last summer, will start at full-back.

Northampton Saints’ Lee Dickson will lead the team out at Irish Independent Park against the Wolfhounds.

The front-row is full of international experience too with Matt Mullan (Wasps), Rob Webber (Bath) and Henry Thomas (Bath), all New Zealand tourists last summer, named in the side.

Jon Callard, the Saxons head coach, said: “The game tomorrow night against the Wolfhounds will be a difficult and tough match for us but the group is excited about it and the opportunity to put on an England shirt.

“The team is one of the strongest Saxons sides selected and every player knows the importance of this match with potential of claiming a spot in the senior squad for the Six Nations campaign and the World Cup later in year.”

Newcastle Falcons’ Kieran Brookes has been called back into the senior squad as training cover so Jake Cooper-Woolley (Wasps) will take his place on the Saxons bench. Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks) has been brought into the Saxons group on standby.

The last time the two sides met on Irish soil, in 2013, the Saxons beat the Wolfhounds 14-10 in Galway but last season’s fixture saw the Saxons narrowly lose 14-8 at Kingsholm, Gloucester.

England Saxons: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Sam Burgess, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Matt Garvey, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan Dickie, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Christian Wade.

Date: Friday, 30 January
Venue: Irish Independent Park, Cork
Kick-off: 19.45 GMT
Referee: tbc
Assistant Referees: tbc