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England 'A' v Portugal - Preview

SPOTLIGHT: The England ‘A’ side take on Portugal in the long-awaited fixture at Leicester Tigers Stadium this Sunday, February 25.

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A strong matchday 23 has been announced for England ‘A’, with Bath lock Charlie Ewels named as captain.

The starting XV includes five players already capped by England, including Bath’s Ewels who has made 30 appearances for England after his first Saxons appearance in 2016. Of the matchday 23, 17 of the cohort have come through the pathway system with caps at either U18 or U20 age-grade level.

Harlequins back Oscar Beard is another addition to George Skivington’s England ‘A’ setup ahead of this Sunday’s clash, linking up with clubmates Fin Baxter, Sam Riley and Cadan Murley at Loughborough University this week. Beard goes into the starting XV, partnering Max Ojomoh in midfield, with the pair both having been involved with the senior squad last week.

The squad, which features some of the biggest names from around the Premiership, has been training in the East Midlands this week under the leadership of head coach George Skivington, attack coach Sam Vesty and defence coach Dom Waldouck. The coaching trio selected the matchday 23 in consultation with England head coach Steve Borthwick and RFU Executive Director of Performance Rugby Conor O’Shea.

Os Lobos will face England following an impressive showing in last year’s World Cup, which included a draw against Georgia followed by a first-ever tournament win over quarterfinalists Fiji.

England  ‘A’ head coach, George Skivington, said: “It’s been great to get together with the group this week at Loughborough and I’ve been really impressed by the high standards they’ve shown. We’ve put the boys through a challenging programme that has tested them to the intense rigor that Portugal will arrive with on Sunday.

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“Our visitors are in the midst of the Rugby Europe Championship and will no doubt be using Sunday as an opportunity to experiment, but their strength as a union has been evident recently. They will certainly provide a stern test for us, but it’s a test that the players, Dom, Sam and I are relishing.

“I am really excited to see the side take to the field against Portugal on Sunday. I really believe we have assembled a squad that possesses some of the most exciting developing talent the Premiership has to offer, and I’m sure they’ll put on a show for the fans in Leicester.”

Teams:

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England: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Cadan Murley, 13 Oscar Beard, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Will Muir, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Alfie Barbeary, 7 Guy Pepper, 6 Tom Pearson, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Rusiate Tuima, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Fin Baxter.
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Tarek Haffar, 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19 Ben Bamber, 20 Greg Fisilau, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Oliver Hartley.

Portugal: 15 Alfredo Almeida, 14 Jose Vila Gomes, 13 Vasco Leita, 12 Francisco Nobre, 11 Jose Cortes, 10 Manual Vareiro, 9 Duarte Cardoso, 8 Jose Roque, 7 Francisco Almeida, 6 Clement Ribeiro, 5 Nicolas Fernandes, 4 Antonio R Andrade, 3 Antonio Prim, 2 Pedro Vicente, 1 Andre Arrojado (captain)
Replacements: 16 Abel de Cunha, 17 Jayson Rodrigues, 18 Giorgi Turabelidze, 19 Kevin Batista, 20 Joao Cabaco, 21 Boaventura Almeida, 22 Duarte Cortes, 23 Jose do Carmo Camara.

Date: Sunday, February 25
Venue: Leicester Tigers Stadium, United Kingdom
Kick-off: 13.00 (14.00 PT, 13.00 GMT)
Referee: TBC

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