England U20 Head Coach Nick Walshe has announced his squad for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship, a squad which contains three Gloucester Rugby players.
Billy Burns, Jonny Hill and Ross Moriarty are the players in questions as England head to New Zealand to defend the trophy that they won in France last year.
Coaches Nick Walshe and Ian Peel will be hoping to defend the title they won last June in France, and have named seven players with previous JWC experience - including captain Callum Braley.
England kick off their campaign on June 2against Italy at the ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe before facing Australia on June 6 at the QBE Stadium, Auckland, before taking on Argentina on June 10, again at the QBE Stadium.
Head Coach Walshe said:
"We're pleased with the balance and experience in this squad, and we are confident that they will perform well in each of our five matches.
"While England U20 are the holders of the trophy, this group hasn't won anything - we enjoyed a successful Six Nations, and while it was disappointing not to win it, as a group we came on hugely. The key is to keep building on that momentum."
Forwards Coach Peel said:
"Our focus is on that first game against Italy. We have a warm up match and a camp in Newcastle prior to flying out, but the plan is to build towards that opening match. The games come thick and fast in this tournament, we've got a very tough group but we're excited by that challenge."
Captain Callum Braley added:
"It's massively exciting to be heading down to New Zealand to defend our title. Rugby is obviously huge over there and there will be some pressure on us, but we will use that as a positive and look to perform as best we can."
England Under 20 squad
Biyi Alo (Saracens), James Chisholm (Harlequins), Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Jonny Hill (Gloucester Rugby), Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Gus Jones (London Wasps), Alex Lundberg (London Wasps), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Harry Rudkin (Leicester Tigers), Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers), Jack Walker (Leeds Carnegie), Tom Woolstencroft (Bath Rugby)
Callum Braley (Bristol Rugby, captain), Billy Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Nathan Earle (Saracens), Tom Fowlie (London Irish), Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues), Sam Olver (Northampton Saints), Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers) ,Howard Packman (Northampton Saints), Harry Sloan (Harlequins), Tom Stephenson (Northampton Saints), Henry Taylor (Loughborough University), Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.