Sharks academy winger Alex Wills has been called up to the England Under 20s squad for the first time as one of five Sale youngsters picked for a two-match tour of Georgia ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa next month.
Head coach Mark Mapletoft has named prop Asher Opoku-Fordjour, flanker Tristan Woodman, scrum-half Nye Thomas, centre Rekeiti Ma’asi-White and uncapped Wills, who joined Sharks from Worcester earlier in the season, in his 29-man squad.
The squad will travel to Georgia for the matches on Saturday, 27 May and Thursday, 1 June, providing a competitive opportunity for the side to continue to develop ahead of the global tournament.
Leicester’s Lewis Chessum captains the squad, which includes nine uncapped England U20 players, however all have been part of the England Rugby pathways programme previously. The England Rugby pathways programme is a vital development tool for future international rugby; of the 48 men’s players capped for England last year, 42 of them played England U20. The World Rugby U20 Championship will be held for the first time in four years, running from 24 June to 14 July, and featuring the top 12 U20 rugby nations. Played over five match days, England is in Pool B where they will face Australia, Ireland and Fiji. England men’s U20 head coach, Mark Mapletoft, said: “Congratulations to all players selected for the tour of Georgia. These two matches will allow us to test ourselves on the road against a physical outfit with a tight turnaround, just like we’ll face at the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa.”
England men’s U20 squad
Afolabi Fasogbon (London Irish) Asher Opoku-Fordjour (Sale Sharks) Chandler Cunningham-South (London Irish) Craig Wright (Northampton)* Ethan Clarke (Harlequins)* Finn Carnduff (Leicester Tigers) Finn Theobald-Thomas (Gloucester) Greg Fisilau (Exeter Chiefs) Harry Browne (Harlequins) Harvey Cuckson (Bath Rugby)* James Halliwell (Bristol Bears)* Lewis Chessum (Leicester Tigers) Nathan Jibulu (Harlequins) Nathan Michelow (Saracens)* Tristan Woodman (Sale Sharks) Zach Carr (Harlequins)*
Backs Alex Wills (Sale Sharks)* Benjamin Waghorn (Harlequins) Cassius Cleaves (Harlequins) Charlie Bracken (Saracens) Connor Slevin (Harlequins)* Jacob Cusick (Leicester Tigers) Joe Jenkins (Bristol Bears) Joseph Woodward (Leicester Tigers) Louie Johnson (Newcastle Falcons) Nye Thomas (Sale Sharks) Rekeiti Ma’asi-White (Sale Sharks) Sam Harris (Bath Rugby) Toby Thame (Northampton)* *Uncapped England U20