Heathcote starts in the centre for England Under 20

3 June 2012

Bath Rugby's Tom Heathcote will start at inside centre for England Under 20 tomorrow when they take on Italy in the IRB Junior World Championship opener at the University of Western Cape Stadium, Cape Town, kick-off 15.45 (BST), live on Sky Sports 2 HD.

Head Coach Rob Hunter and Assistant Nick Walshe have given first Under 20 starts to Nathan Morris, Ross Harrison, David Sisi and Billy Vunipola, while Chris Walker captains the side for the fifth time.

Five of the matchday squad (Yarde, Robson, Twomey, Mills and Ransom) played in the 2011 competition in Italy and Hunter says that their experience will be key.

"Having the guys here who understand how hard these games are in terms of physicality and pressure is very valuable. But we're also lucky that the guys that have come in have a lot of Aviva Premiership and RFU Championship experience and that's fantastic."

England beat Italy 42-7 in this season's Six Nations, but Hunter adds that the result in Rovigo back in March will bear no relevance come kick off time in South Africa.

"This is a different competition and we saw last year that sides can change over just a short amount of time. We're a bit different to how we were in the Six Nations and I'm sure Italy will be too – they're a good side and we've got a lot of respect for them."

England Under 20 starting XV to take on Italy

15 Charlie Walker (Harlequins)

14 Marland Yarde (London Irish)

13 Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs)

12 Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby)

11 Josh Bassett (Bedford Blues)

10 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)

9 Dan Robson (Gloucester Rugby)

1 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Cheifs)

2 Nathan Morris (London Wasps)

3 Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks)

4 Sam Twomey (Harlequins)

5 Dominic Barrow (Leeds Carnegie)

6 David Sisi (Harlequins)

7 Chris Walker (Leeds Carnegie) (C)

8 Billy Vunipola (London Wasps)


16 Max Crumpton (Saracens)

17 Alec Hepburn (London Wasps)

18 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)

19 George Merrick (Harlequins)

20 Jack Clifford (Harlequins)

21 Ben Spencer (Saracens)

22 Ryan Mills (Gloucester Rugby)

23 Ben Ransom (Saracens)

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