Stuart Lancaster names England EPS & Saxons Squads

England Interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has named the 64 players who will make up both the Senior EPS Squad and England Saxons squad.

In all, there are 9 new names in the EPS squad, including Owen Farrell, Ben Morgan and Joe Marler. The captain will be named in the week before England’s first match against Scotland on February 4th.


Forwards (18)

Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Ben Morgan (Scarlets), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Rob Webber (London Wasps), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)

Backs (14)

Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), David Strettle (Saracens), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)


Forwards (18)

David Attwood (Bath Rugby), Chris Brooker (Harlequins), Paul Doran Jones (Northampton Saints), Matt Garvey (London Irish), James Gaskell (Sale Sharks), Jamie Gibson (London Irish), Joe Gray (Harlequins), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps),Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors), Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby), David Paice (London Irish), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), George Robson (Harlequins), Andrew Saull (Saracens), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), Nick Wood (Gloucester Rugby)

Backs (14)

Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby), Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers), Delon Armitage (London Irish), Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby), Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Karl Dickson (Harlequins), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish), Ryan Lamb (Northampton Saints), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby), Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers), Micky Young (Leicester Tigers)

15 of the 32 man senior squad were not involved during the Rugby World Cup. Players unlucky to miss out on the senior squad include Joe Gray, Luke Narraway, Billy Twelvetrees and Paul Doran-Jones, whilst there are surprise inclusions for Louis Deacon, Rob Webber, Lee Mears and David Wilson.

Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby), Alex Goode (Saracens), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers) and Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby) will join the squad from the Saxons as temporary replacements for Courtney Lawes (knee), Toby Flood (knee), Louis Deacon (hamstring) and Manusamoa Tuilagi (hamstring).

Is this the right squad? Give us your thoughts.

65 thoughts on “Stuart Lancaster names England EPS & Saxons Squads

  1. No fetcher in the senior squad. Expect Wood to play there, but would have wanted either Andy Saull or Jamie Gibson to have been involved.

    1. Saull is unlucky really, but with the level of back rows England have at their disposal it isn’t a huge surprise. Maybe a back row of Wood, Saull and Robshaw at eight could work for the future?

      Completely agree with Stuart that it is great not to see Banahan included in the EPS. He is lucky to make the Saxons in my opinion. It’s just nice to have a welcome breath of fresh air instead of the stodgy, bulky, boring, “10-man rugby” selections we were getting before. I honestly think that heads will be turned come full time at Murrayfield in a few weeks time.

      1. Care to elaborate? I think this is possibly the best selection of players England have had for a long time. Plenty of youth with a splattering of experience.

  2. Lots of youth intertwined with some experience. Hopefully that will rub off on the squad in the lead up to the opening match against Scotland. I cannot wait to see how they perform and what Lancaster can do with a pool of players with so much potential.

    I reckon starting team against Scotland could be along the lines of:
    1. Corbs
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Palmer
    5. Dowson
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Hodgson
    11. Sharples
    12. Farrell
    13. Barritt
    14. Cashton (not a typo)
    15. Foden

    16. Stevens
    17. Mears
    18. Botha
    19. Croft
    20. Simpson
    21. Turner-Hall
    22. Brown

    1. agree with this entirely except for putting dowson in the second row? it’s not his position and he’s too lightweight anyway. would be better off with croft or both in there and dowson on the bench

    2. Dowson at 5? I’m sure he’s a flanker, and not that tall. Also my only other change would be to swap Farrell and Barritt round. It works for Sarries.

    3. You mean Farrell 13 and Barrit 12 as well, Barrit taking it up in midfield is priceless… Haha easy for me to say being a SA boy myself like Barrit :-p

  3. im very happy with the squad on a whole but i do think george robson and and paul doran jones can feel very unlcuky about only making the saxons. Doran jones especially has really impressed me this season in a dominent saints scrum, im unsure how dave wilson has got in the squad when he has been dropped by bath as there scrum was going backwards. Im very happy the northampton backrow trio of clark, dowson and wood are all in there. Clark i think is very underated and has already played in a heineken cup final and was the youngest player ever to play premiership rugby a few years ago. Very excited about at the 6nations now come on england!

  4. Can’t argue too much. I guess Mears gets in as the only experienced back up. Not convinced by Wilson at international level. Twelvetrees probably the unluckiest as too many untested FH’s and centres in the squad already. Goode is providing cover for FH in the EPS – I thought he’d been used more at FB this season. Maybe Burns a bit unlucky there. Really minor quibbling than wholesale disagreement.

  5. Only 2 selections i don’t understand/agree with is Mears and Deacon. Mear’s has been injured nearly all season long, and Deacon is well………Deacon, so have they played themselves into the EPS? Guessing its their experience? Otherwise i quite like the squad. Really looking forward to seeing what Lancaster and his “new look” team can do in the 6N’s.

    Depending on injuries – team that will start against Scotland:

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Botha
    5. Palmer
    6. Robshaw
    7. Wood
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Hodgson
    11. Sharples
    12. Barritt
    13. Farrell
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Stevens
    17. Webber
    18. Croft
    19. Dowson
    20. Dickson
    21. Turner-Hall
    22. Brown

    1. Ist 15 I think is probably right, seems certain they’ll go for a Sarries midfield in Hodgeson, Barritt and Farrell, which makes sense given the injuries and lack of preparation. Can’t see there being 2 specialists on the bench, who can only cover 12 & 15. I reckon Strettle (wing/ centre) and/ or Goode (FH/FB) would probably be chosen.

  6. Don’t see the point in promoting Dowson and Botha when Attwood, Gibson, Seymour or even Gaskell could be in there. A hard selection on Twelvetrees, i think he offers a lot more than JTH going forward and he can cover flyhalf, especially since Floody and Hodgson are the only specialist three quarters in the team and one of them is injured. Why on earth Webber, Wilson and Mears are in there is beyond me. Gray should have been in the EPS with Jamie George in the Saxons. I’m glad Farrel has been included, he can cover a lot of positions well, he reminds me of a young Mike Catt (cept he’s english of course, unlike Botha and Barritt). No surprise in the amount of Saracens selected thanks to Andy Farrell probably. It is beyond my belief that not one player in the EPS is from a northern club. Not only are we not allowed to watch live international rugby without travelling to the other end of the country, we are even negelected to the point where we dont even get a home boy to root for. I would have picked Seymour over Dowson anyday.

    1. do you really think stuart lancaster decided not to pick a northern boy? you don’t believe he would have chosen players purely on merit rather than for which club they’re playing for? im sure there are players from the north playing for clubs ‘down south’ who have been picked, but the geographical distribution of clubs along with newcastle’s awful few seasons doesn’t help the situation.

    2. Catt was an elusive a creative runner. Farrel is a game manager, I’ve never really seen him make many breaks. I don’t really see the comparison.

  7. Oh, almost forgot chaps…

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Botha
    5. Palmer
    6. Croft
    7. Wood
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Hodgson
    11. Sharples
    12. Turner-Hall
    13. Farrell
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

  8. Twelvetrees a bit unlucky but maybe they have their second 5/8th style player already there in Farrell and want some variety. Not a massive fan of Brad Barritt though, very one-dimensional. Regardless of Tuilagi’s injury if they see Farrell as their 12 he has to play there and stick someone else at 13, regardless of where he is playing for Sarries.

    Doesn’t look too bad a squad although have serious concerns about the front 5. Only 4 locks picked, 2 of whom are injured (Deacon and Lawes), unimpressed by David Wilson and Wasps’ lineout has been a shambles for years and I’d have thought their hooker might have something to do with that so Webber’s selection a surprise.

    But the thing which should lead the RFU to offer Lancaster a 10 year contract and the chance to name his price…..

    NO BANAHAN!!!!!


  9. Lancaster keep banging on about having a 12 who has the play making skills of a 10 so its unlikely that he’d but Farrell in at 13….deacon? *sigh*

    1. farrell wears 13 at sarries and plays at 12 most of the time so it wouldn’t really matter all that much

      1. Ye its not really about the numbers on shirts. You never see a backline lined up in perfect order. Its just about having the right balance along the line.

        Personally I don’t really see Farrel as a 12 or 13. I can’t ever remember him making an exciting break.

  10. Re the comments on Marler, Webber, Mears and Wilson. Rowntree obviously is up for the challenge, and lest we forget the propping crisis of the 2009 AIs. It was Rowntree who identified Doran-Jones when no one had heard of him and managed to get decent performance out of Tim Payne, who had recently been twice sent off in a club game v Leicester.

    I also wonder, re Mears and Deacon, whether Lancaster had run out of changes. With Deacon out for the tournament and Mears fitness an issue, he has the option of ploughing the Saxons, so effectively has a 34 man squad.

    Surprised though that JTH got in ahead of Twelvetrees, and that Saull was not in the EPS ahead of Clark, we really had enough cover at 6 with Dowson, Croft, Wood and Robshaw.

    Most relieved that Easter is not there. Never doubted his ability, more his committment. His tendancy to disappear in games or appear off the pace must surely be down to his fitness and physique. I imagine he was one of the elder players who mocked the fitness ethic of the younger players. i’m sure it was meant in good humour, but just not the attitude that England need right now.

    1. I’m not really sure about the ubiquitous trust in Rowntree. We entered the world cup believing our scrum was our best asset, on paper it was. Against Scotland we played Stevens on the wrong side of the scrum (hes a tight head) and got beaten, against France we did the same again. Despite the fact that Corbisiero more than matched the French scrum in the preceding 6N. I rate this as one of the worst selection mistakes of our campaighn. Surely Rowntree must have had some responsibility for this horrific selection error?

      1. True, but that was one blight in anotherwise strong area for england over the last four years. My gut feel was that this was johnson’s choice. when it came to the world cup all through that team experience was chosen over youth, when it wasn’t warranted. It wasn’t just Stevens, Haskell (not a favourite of mine) was dumped for easter on the back of some good performances, Wood dropped for moody, Flood and Youngs for Wilko and wigglesworth, Lawes for Deacon. That this was done in all areas leads me to believe this was Johnno’s policy, it’s like he lost his confidence all of a sudden. I could be wrong….

        1. I think you’re probably spot on. Harping back to 2003 WC and the experince players in the squad. Difference was those players were world class.

        2. Very true. I suppose we’ll never know how much of a say Rowntree had in that, probably not very much considering how well he has emerged. But you’re correct in saying the Stevens selection reflected a wider trend.

      2. Absolutely. Sure, he is better than the rest of his former colleagues. But that doesn’t say much. A lot of the positive hype about him has come from leaked players’ comments, and since when have the players been the best judges? Our scrummaging has been disappointing for a while. We will only know how good Rowntree is after seeing what he can do as part of a well run coaching set up.

        1. The players are absolutely the best judges, they are the ones who experience his methods first hand and can compare him with their club coaches etc. similar praise was given to rowntree by players on the ’09 lions tour. Hardly a coincidence that he was the only coach kept on from the world cup debacle

          1. Not sure about just going on what the players say. You have to judge them on performances as well. Often players like a coach who lets them cruise in a comfort zone (I knowI do) but that’s not great for the team. Having said that we only seem to hear good things about Rowntree from all quarters.

            The scrum may have been one of our best assets on paper but that’s not saying much. In the new squad the front five is the area I am most concerned about. I don’t think we have a single world class player there. A couple with potential but if we achieve parity in the scrums in this 6 Nations I think that is the best we can hope for. Not necessarily Rowntree’s fault though.

  11. Deacon is cack. He should be nowhere near the England team set up. If you need to keep the Leicester contingent up then it should have been Parling ahead of him, despite his lack of game time and concerns over his fitness.

    I’m a Quins fan so I am happy that Marler in in but I think that is a wrong call for the senior team. Doran-Jones should have been in ahead of him in my book.

    Rob Webber is utter gash. Couldn’t hit a cows arse with a banjo, which for a hooker is criminal. Where is the likes of Hawkins? He should at least be in the saxons with Gray in the main squad as the 3rd choice.

    Overall it is a pretty decent squad. The fact that the likes of Banahan, Hape, Easter, Cueto and Tindall aren’t in is a positive sign. It shows that Lancaster is looking at the long term goal, even if he may not be the man that sees the process out.

  12. The only one question mark I have, is that there are no real 7’s in the squad. Obviously Lancaster thinks he has it covered. Apart from that this is a very good looking group of players.

    A little surprised that Hopper is not in either squad, as he has been playing very well for Quins.

    For me it’s not about the players who have been selected, (as it is pretty much what I had hoped for( but the players who haven’t! So glad to see the back of Hape, Banaram, Tindall and Easter.

    As for Deacon, I think he’s in the squad for his experience, and also for his bossing of the lineout.

    1. For sure Hopper’s current form has been great but let’s not forget that before Lowe was injured at Quins he was playing backup. No doubt he is one for the future but perhaps let him have a proper run in the Premiership first, I believe he’s only played eight or nine games so far since joining from the Pirates.

      Maybe Lancaster is hoping to mould a current backrow player into a “fetcher.” I could be mistaken but I don’t think Richard Hill was as tenacious at the breakdown in his early days, although his early days were a little bit before I started watching religiously!

      1. i don’t remember richard hill ever being a fetcher? that was very much neil back’s role. hill was everywhere but never an out and out seven

          1. Think they did and am pretty sure that I once read that Hill always believed his best position was at open-side

    2. “For me it’s not about the players who have been selected, (as it is pretty much what I had hoped for( but the players who haven’t! So glad to see the back of Hape, Banaram, Tindall and Easter.”…………pretty negative but i whole heartedly agree.

  13. Can’t complain too much about the elite squad. I think Mears, Deacon and Wilson are lucky that Lancaster was limited in the number of changes he could make…can’t see them playing a big role in the tournament or indeed going forwards.

    Webber is an odd inclusion, but everything else looks pretty decent. There’s a strong team in there somewhere, and the fact that there’s absolutely nothing to lose will hopefully bode well for the next few weeks. We should have a decent pack, and there are some handy backs to choose from.

    Slightly disappointingly, picking Hodgson might be the way to go, but then what are we waiting for? Flood to get fit again? Not convinced he’s good enough anyway, so why not give Farrell a go at 10? Scotland and Italy first up is about as nice an introduction as you could have (not easy, yes I know, but could be worse).

    1. I back Flood hes been at 10 for every good attacking performance England have had over the last 2 years.

      1. He can go missing a little when under pressure though. I never feel that comfortable watching him, like I’m waiting for something bad to happen…it might just be me!

        If he was fit I’d start him, but I’m not sure Charlie Hodgson is the answer, regardless of the question.

      1. Ye Webber has never looked like even approaching international standard at club but 2 weeks with Lancaster (that internationally renowned and proven coach) and he’ll be a world beater.

    2. Good point about the changes Lancaster is allowed – he doesn’t have a free hand so it might be that some of the selections he couldn’t change even if he wanted too.

  14. Easter is the best back row player in the world/possibly the fittest no8 in English rugby. I’m so happy he’s in the squad he should definatly be captain and starting 8. The rest of the squad is also very good. Lancaster looks like he knows what he’s doing.

    1. First wum i’ve seen on this board. Easter is world class tho, Kieran Read said he always looked up to him and aspires to reach the same level.

  15. Hmmm, is this a first in the lifetime of TRB? Mostly positive reaction to a squad announcement with only minor gripes about one or two on the fringes? I guess we should see what we think of the starting XV before getting too excited, but today was a good day.

  16. No armitage, no bananaman, no hape, just lawes and Stevens to go and finally all the dead wood will be gone. Looks a tough squad that should worry most other nations. Sharples, Foden and Ashton looks a nice trio as long as they come looking for the ball. It won’t get to them otherwise.

  17. Bit harsh.

    Stevens is a pretty decent prop if he’s actually played on the correct side of the scrum and Lawes has the potential to be a very good lock indeed. He needs to lose some of the impetuosity of youth first though

    1. You’re correct Paulo. Stevens is a very good TIGHT head. Lawes is a pretty special athlete physically and needs to be in there.

      1. I am ready and willing to be proved wrong about Stevens lets hope they play him in the right position. Having said that I am still baffled about the excitement about Lawes. As far as I can tell he has never really proved himself internationally and even at Premiership level he is just a bug lump who hits 1 nasty tackle a game and then disappears. Maybe I’m just watching the wrong games everyone else seems really excited about him.

  18. Yeah l really love the squad all the way from South Africa and being a Springbok fan firstly. The new faces are fresh and I am stoked some old bulldogs are out, thank heaven, WC was way to frustrating with the likes of Tindall, Moody, Wilkinson etc, great player, but the WC was taking them to far.

    MY concern about this England squad is, even though the youngsters are awesome(wish Twelvetrees and Saull had made it though)…but no one wo will make a WORLD 15 at the moment, think the closest contenders for a W15 spot will be Hartley and Ashton. Most of these guys wont make a 6 Nations 15 even…Btw pity bout Danny Care, love him, hope he gets his act sorted.

    But like Lancaster said, they know exactly what the challenge is…this will be frustrating times for ENG fans and even for people like me who has a soft-spot for Eng… But in little under 4 years time I believe we could very well look back and say that this was the best call ever made by ENG to get these youngsters in.

  19. Selection is pretty much as I expected though I have to say I have mixed feelings about the total exclusion of more senior players.
    Half of me thinks on the back of the RWC they should move forward with younger guys who aren’t tainted by the media reportings that occured during the RWC. The other half thinks will they miss the expereince? I suppose time will tell.
    Whether you like Easter or not, he is playing well at the moment and I feel that because of his leaked comment he has been made an example of. Must be gutting to know you aren’t ready to retire from the international side of things but you are pushed out. Though his inclusion in the team and that of Tindall & Cueto may just cause undercurrents of unease and so I guess that this way, it’s a new start and hopefully we will see a more cohesive team.

  20. At present, Ashton is the only England player that would make the world 15. And he world. There’s no better winger in the world at the moment. I believe. His predatory instincts and finishing are second to none. But he’s it. The thing is, that’s now. Come 2015, which let’s be honest, is the be all and end all of international rugby, i believe we’ll have potentially 4 or 5 players in a world 15. This is a team for the future, that has to start somewhere. Might as well be now.

    Looking forward to Feb 4 immensely.

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