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)
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).