England today named an exciting and experienced Under 20 Elite Player Squad for the new season featuring five Gloucester Rugby players.
The quintet from Kingsholm are Shaun Knight, Danny Wright, Jordi Pasqualin, Freddie Burns and Jonny May.
The 32-man group will compete in the RBS U20 Six Nations campaign in the New Year before heading to the IRB Junior World Championship (JWC) in Argentina next June.
Head coach Mark Mapletoft can call on 16 players capped at Under 20 level last season, including seven who took part in the JWC in Tokyo this summer where England were beaten by New Zealand in the final.
They include the 2009 JWC leading points scorer Tom Homer (London Irish), starting fly half Rory Clegg (Harlequins), hooker Jamie George (Saracens) and lock James Gaskell (Sale Sharks).
Mapletoft also promotes eight players from last season's unbeaten England Under 18 team, who completed a Five Nations Festival Grand Slam and beat South Africa 45-13 in Kimberley last month.
Mapletoft said: "We've got a great deal of experience and we're able to add to that with players who have been very successful at Under 18 level over the last two years.
"We also have a lot of raw talent to work with and the Under 18s certainly looked very strong in South Africa this summer.
"We're heading in the right direction and we've established ourselves as the second best side in the world behind New Zealand over the last couple of years.
"The age grade sides do change every year but we continually look at ourselves to keep improving and keep focusing on their development as players and as individuals."
The RFU's Head of Elite player development Stuart Lancaster is optimistic that the Under 20s can go one step further this season to claim a first world title in South America.
Lancaster said: "The strength in depth we've developed at age group level over the last few years is a great credit to the work the academies are doing within our clubs.
"There's a really positive environment that has been created between club and country here and the quality of the players coming through the system is testament to that.
"We've every right to be ambitious. The next step is for us to win the IRB Junior World Championship and looking at this group of players it's an achievable goal."
The Under 20s start their preparations with two days together at Twickenham next month and training camps in December and January before kicking off the Six Nations against Wales on February 5.
England Under 20 EPS
Joe Marler (Harlequins)**
Lee Imiolek (Sale Sharks)
Jamie George (Saracens)**
Arthur Ellis (London Wasps)*
Shaun Knight (Gloucester Rugby)**
Mako Vunipola (Bristol Rugby)
Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons)
Calum Green (Leicester Tigers)
Danny Wright (Gloucester Rugby)*
James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)**
Peter Elder (London Wasps)*
Jamie Gibson (London Irish)*
Joe Trayfoot (Harlequins)
Jacob Rowan (Leeds Carnegie)*
Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons)
Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons)
Jackson Wray (Saracens)
Sam Harrison (Leicester Tigers)*
Jordi Pasqualin (Gloucester Rugby)*
Sam Stuart (Harlequins)
Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)*
Rory Clegg (Harlequins)**
Jake Sharp (Saracens)
Tom Catterick (Newcastle Falcons)
Tom Casson (Saracens)*
Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
Sam Smith (Harlequins)
Christian Wade (London Wasps)
Marcus Watson (London Irish)
Will Hurrell (Leicester Tigers)**
Tom Homer (London Irish)**
Jack Wallace (London Wasps)
Northampton away was the first Gloucester game under David Humphreys last season, but the Director of Rugby told the local media that the Cherry and Whites are a different proposition compared to 12 months ago and are looking forward to the challenge.
Having skippered Gloucester against the Barbarians last week, Nick Wood once again wore the captain's armband on Monday evening as Gloucester United kicked off their Aviva Premiership A League campaign with a bonus point win at Leicester.
Gloucester recorded a 32-20 win over La Rochelle on Thursday evening, and second row Jeremy Thrush was thrilled to pick up the victory on his first taste of a trip to France and the hostile atmosphere.
Gloucester were forced to battle for their 33-20 victory in La Rochelle on Thursday evening, something that centre Bill Meakes said that he and the squad were well prepared for as well as thanking the travelling support for the part they played.
Gloucester got off to a winning start in the European Rugby Challenge Cup last weekend, but Head Coach Laurie Fisher is expecting a much tougher challenge when the Cherry and Whites travel to La Rochelle for Thursday night's Round Two encounter.
Dan Thomas was a try scorer in the 14-62 defeat at the hands of the Barbarians on Tuesday evening, but told GRTV after the game that he'd really enjoyed taking on the Barbarians and locking horns with Ardie Savea at the breakdown.
After a long, hard battle to return to fitness, Henry Trinder made his long awaited comeback in the second half of the 23-10 win over Zebre on Saturday and admitted he was taken aback by the reception he got from the Kingsholm crowd.
After missing out on Gloucester's two recent European fixtures, Jonny May is back on the left wing for Friday evening's Aviva Premiership fixture at Northampton, while Mariano Galarza is named in the matchday squad for the first time this season.