Bath Rugby Academy duo Zach Mercer and Darren Atkins have both been named to start in England U20’s final pool game of the World Rugby U20 Championship tomorrow evening, kick-off 19.45.
It will be Mercer’s first start of the tournament, having impressed in both his appearances from the bench. The side is captained by the in-coming Bath hooker, Jack Walker.
Victory would seal top spot in Pool B for England who have secured successive bonus-point victories from their opening two fixtures in Manchester.
“There is fantastic depth in this squad, there are some guys who haven’t had much game time and we’re trying to give them a little bit more,” said Head Coach, Martin Haag.
“It is about the wider 28, we are all in this together, this is our third game in eight days and it is important we manage players as well as selecting a side which we believe can get the result.
“This is a team that has a great attacking intent and who can score tries from a number of different sources. It is a team that is composed, enjoys each other’s company, who are proud to wear the England shirt and play at a level that they themselves aspire to.
“For us it’s about improving each game. We’ve created lots of opportunities so we want to find that clinical edge not only in attack but all areas - set piece, general play and in our defence.
“We’ve seen everything we wanted to see from the players in the first two games, we just want to be that much better, that’s our challenge collectively and individually.”
Haag is expecting a stern test off the Australian side who need to beat England to have any chance of progressing through to the semi-finals as pool leaders.
“This is an opportunity to play against a world-class team in Australia and to test ourselves against their class and quality of opposition,” he said. “It’s about this group playing and expressing themselves.
“We are not focussing too much on other people or beyond the pool stages. It’s about the here and now and trying to get a good result against Australia and we know that we have to play at the highest level in order to do that.
“For us we’ll take it game by game in an attempt to progress to a level that we can be really proud of.”
England squad to play Australia
15 Darren Atkins (Bath Rugby)
14 George Perkins (Saracens)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Johnny Williams (London Irish)
11 Matt Gallagher (Saracens)
10 Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
9 Harry Randall (Gloucester Rugby)
1 Lewis Boyce (Yorkshire Carnegie)
2 Jack Walker - captain (Yorkshire Carnegie)
3 Will Stuart (Wasps)
4 Stan South (Harlequins)
5 Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
6 George Nott (Sale Sharks)
7 Will Evans (Leicester Tigers)
8 Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
16 Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
17 Billy Keast (Exeter Chiefs)
18 Billy Walker (Saracens)
19 Jack Willis (Wasps)
20 Josh Bainbridge (Yorkshire Carnegie)
21 Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
22 Max Malins (Saracens)
23 Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie)