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Stevens Named In Young Saxons Squad
Saracens prop recalled in Churchill Cup side
Posted May 31, 2011 by Chris White
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England Saxons coach Stuart Lancaster has named their youngest ever 24-man squad for the upcoming Churchill Cup, which gets underway this weekend, with one inclusion really standing out.
The Saxons take on the USA at Northampton’s Franklin’s Gardens ground, with a squad averaging 23 years and 9 months. One of the most interesting selections is the Saracens prop Matt Stevens, who is set to make his first international appearance after returning from a two-year ban for taking cocaine.
The first game is against the United States on 4 June, Tonga on 12th, and a final group match against Italy A, Canada or Russia on the 18th. England head coach Martin Johnson then names his preliminary 40-man World Cup squad two days later, so the players selected have a very good chance of going to New Zealand if they impress.
Just four players remain in the squad from the 22 on duty in last June's 38-18 Churchill Cup final victory against Canada – Alex Goode, Micky Young, Graham Kitchener, and Luke Narraway.
In Stevens’ case, however, is this a good selection in terms of the message it sends out? Yes, I think so. He made his mistake, and freely admitted so. He has since joined a new club in Saracens, and helped them to win the Premiership this season. We hear so much about players needing second chances and this is Stevens’. He was out of the game for two years and worked his way back to fitness and form and into the Saracens first team. If he hadn’t had his ban, he would have been called up for England earlier in the season, there’s no doubt about that. So this is his chance now to prove that he is still up to the challenge at international level, and repay the faith in him shown by the selectors.
England Saxons Churchill Cup squad: David Attwood (Gloucester Rugby) Mouritz Botha (Saracens) Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons) Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers) James Gaskell (Sale Sharks) Jamie Gibson (London Irish) Joe Gray (Harlequins) Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs) Graham Kitchener (Worcester Warriors) Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors) Luke Narraway (Gloucester Rugby) David Paice (London Irish) Matt Stevens (Saracens) Miles Benjamin (Worcester Warriors) Mike Brown (Harlequins) Rory Clegg (Harlequins) Alex Goode (Saracens) Paul Hodgson (London Irish) Topsy Ojo (London Irish) Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby) Henry Trinder (Gloucester Rugby) Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins) Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers) Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons)