Meet the young guns: The new faces in Stuart Lancaster's England squad
England head coach picked a fresh looking England squad for the RBS 6 Nations with the emphasis being on young players. Sportsmail takes a look at some of the new faces in the squad.
BRAD BARRITT, 22, CENTRE
A strong tackling and straight running centre whose style is a key feature of Saracens’ success over the past two seasons. He arrived from South Africa little known and has worked his way up, culminating in a headline-grabbing performance against Harlequins at Twickenham in front of 82,000 people at Christmas. But his lack of finesse may find him out at this level and continue England’s lack of midfield dynamism in recent seasons.
Making his mark: Brad Barritt
LEE DICKSON, 26, SCRUM-HALF
Northampton’s ‘heart beat’ according to club coach Jim Mallinder. His buzzing, non-stop style makes him a viable alternative if Leicester No 9 Ben Youngs is injured or out-of-form. Northampton suffered at the start of the season when the former Newcastle man was injured and only started to hit form on his return.
Top Saint: Lee Dickson
OWEN FARRELL, 20, FLY-HALF/CENTRE
Many sons would have gone elsewhere if their dad was coaching them. Owen and coach Andy have so far coped with the attention. Owen looks sure to be a starter at centre and his kicking and distribution should take the pressure off fly-half Charlie Hodgson, who will be making a return to Test rugby.
Big hope: Owen Farrell
CHARLIE SHARPLES, 22, WING
He failed to make the World Cup squad despite impressing in pre-tournament training at Pennyhill Park last August. Now he has the chance to grab a wing place ahead of ousted Delon Armitage and Mark Cueto. He is supposedly not the quickest player at Gloucester — that honour goes to centre Jonny May.
Making up for lost time: Charlie Sharples
CALUM CLARK, 22, FLANKER
He played under Stuart Lancaster at Leeds and is looked upon as a versatile back-rower. But in some ways he is a surprise choice considering he can struggle to win a place in the Northampton back row depending on the game plan. He has just recovered from a thumb injury and will need to prove his fitness in the Saints’ Heineken Cup games.
Surprise choice: Calum Clark
PHIL DOWSON, 30, No 8
A whole-hearted, ball-hugging No 8 who is yet to gain the recognition his durability and dependability have deserved — always playing second fiddle to Nick Easter or James Haskell. His form dipped earlier in the season but he has since regained his zip. However, Harlequins’ talismanic captain Chris Robshaw is said to be winning the race to be England’s starting No 8.
Dependable: Phil Dowson
JOE MARLER, 21, PROP
His distinctive Mohican hairstyle will not affect his selection, says England forwards coach Graham Rowntree. He is a very mobile prop with an impressive work-rate in the loose, but the visit of Toulouse, in the Heineken Cup game before Christmas, exposed doubts about his scrummaging ability at the very top level. ‘We need to find out about him,’ says Rowntree. He is a fierce competitor who will relish the challenge.
Unique look: Joe Marler
JORDAN TURNER-HALL, 24, CENTRE
But for injury he would have made the England squad two years ago and he has fought his way back into the reckoning as Quins have thrilled this season. He may yet miss out if England field an all-Saracens midfield. Suspicions of faltering form in recent weeks as Quins’ unbeaten run came to an end.
Unlucky with injury: Jordan Turner-Hall
BEN MORGAN, 22, No 8
The Bristol-born forward has gained his chance after stints at Cinderford, Methyr Tyfil and professionally at Scarlets. He is a bulldozing ball-carrier but he may need time to develop his game.
Bulldozer: Ben Morgan
ROB WEBBER, 25, HOOKER
Steve Thompson’s retirement left a hole in the England and Wasps front row. Webber has filled the club gap and has impressed Rowntree sufficiently to gain a Test chance. He is a solid citizen who has progressed despite playing in a struggling team.
Impressed: Rob Webber