No place for Ashton and Youngs

Tue, 28 Jan 2014 19:40
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We feel it is the right time to look at another option

Chris Ashton and British and Irish Lions No.9 Ben Youngs have been omitted from the 26-man England squad to travel to Paris for their Six Nations opener against France on Saturday.

The duo are the most notable absentees, while uncapped backs Luther Burrell, George Ford, Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson were all included.

Danny Care and Lee Dickson occupy the scrumhalf slots, with Nowell and Gloucester wing Jonny May selected ahead of the experienced Ashton.

Stuart Lancaster admitted his selection decisions were tough and said the form of Care and Nowell in particular made them impossible to ignore.

The England head coach said: “Competition at scrumhalf has been particularly tight and Danny’s form leading into the Six Nations has been excellent and he merits his inclusion.

“Ben misses out this time but he is a quality player and I am sure he will respond in the same way Danny did at the start of the year.

“We have been pleased with the form of Chris recently. However, Jack has made great progress on the right wing and has also delivered in big games for Exeter Chiefs and we feel it is the right time to look at another option in that position.

“Chris remains an important member of the squad and I am sure he will be working hard to regain that position during the course of the Six Nations.”

Outlining his excitement ahead of taking these players to face a pumped-up France, he added: “We are excited about the players we are taking to Paris and what a great place to open our Six Nations campaign against a French team who will be massively motivated, especially after the last two games between us.

“Competition for places is intense and we have tough selection choices to make across the team. The young players have really impressed and based on their club form and what they have done in training with us they deserve their opportunity.”

Kyle Eastmond (Bath) will join the England Saxons squad and be included in the 23 to face Scotland A in Scoutstoun, Glasgow on Friday.

“Kyle has been superb in training and, in the same way that Anthony Watson played for the Saxons last week, we feel that he will benefit from more senior international experience,” added Lancaster.

The matchday 23 to play at the Stade de France will be named on Thursday morning - with the three additional players travelling that afternoon as cover.

England squad:

David Attwood (Bath), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Matt Mullan (London Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks),Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Backs: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Danny Care (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Anthony Watson (Bath).