Dowson to lead Saxons

Newcastle Falcons flanker Phil Dowson will lead England’s second string against Italy A in Sicily on Saturday.

Head Coach Steve Bates has retained 12 of the squad that recorded a 31-13 victory over Ireland A at Welford Road last Friday.

Bates said: “With Guinness Premiership games on this weekend we have agreed to release a number of players to play for their clubs.

“I think it’s a great indication that we can still field such a strong and competitive squad despite only picking from half the Premiership.

“I’ve been impressed at how quickly the new faces have fitted in and how quickly the squad has come together.”

Making their England Saxons debut in Ragusa will be Bristol prop Alex Clarke, Bath lock Peter Short and Harlequins No. 8 Tom Guest. Behind them, wingers Tom Biggs of Leeds Carnegie and John Rudd of Newcastle Falcons will also be making their first Saxons’ appearance.

The squad will train at Imperial College Training Ground near Heathrow before flying to Sicily tomorrow, Thursday.

England Saxons:

15. Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)
14. John Rudd (Newcastle Falcons)
13. Delon Armitage (London Irish)
12. Alex Crockett (Bath Rugby)
11. Tom Biggs (Leeds Carnegie)
10. Adrian Jarvis (Harlequins)
9. Lee Dickson (Newcastle Falcons)
1. Alex Clarke (Bristol Rugby)
2. David Paice (London Irish)
3. Jason Hobson (Bristol Rugby)
4. Peter Short (Bath Rugby)
5. Nick Kennedy (London Irish)
6. Phil Dowson (Newcastle Falcons, captain)
7. Ben Woods (Newcastle Falcons)
8. Tom Guest (Harlequins)

16. Andrew Long (Newcastle Falcons)
17. David Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)*
18. Andrew Springgay (Bayonne)
19. Will Skinner (Harlequins)
20. Danny Care (Harlequins)
21. Mike Brown (Harlequins)
22. Topsy Ojo (London Irish)

*Subject to availability following a Six Nations Rugby disciplinary hearing this afternoon.