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Mercer to captain England U20 against Italy

22 February 2017

Bath Rugby's Zach Mercer has been named as captain for England U20's Six Nations match against Italy at the Northern Echo Arena on Friday, kick-off 19:45. 

Mercer will captain the team following Ben Earl’s knee injury which ruled him out of the tournament. The back rower will be joined in the matchday squad by Club teammate Josh Bayliss, who is among the replacements. 

Mercer, who has featured regularly in the Aviva Premiership for Bath this season, received the Man of the Match award against Wales. The 19-year old’s stand-out performance included a fantastic individual effort to score a late try which sealed England’s second win of this season’s Six Nations. 

Jamie Blamire, Josh Caulfield, Ben Curry, Ciaran Knight and Alex Mitchell all start for the first time, with England making eight changes to their starting line-up. 

Harlequins wing Sam Aspland-Robinson and Saracens’ Jack Nay return after missing the match against Wales in Colwyn Bay. Saracens centre Dominic Morris starts at outside centre to earn his third England U20 cap. 

England U20 coach Tom Williams said: "Zach Mercer loves to chat among the group and isn't afraid of expressing his opinion. That coupled with his leadership qualities and experience meant that he was the first name that came to mind when we lost Ben Earl through injury.”

Rory Brand, Max Davies, Marcus Smith, Marcus Street and Henry Walker are named among the replacements and could all make their England U20 debuts.

Harlequins fly-half Smith and Exeter Chiefs front row forward Street have been promoted from the England Under 18 squad after recently impressing in last week’s Premiership Rugby Under 18 Academy Finals Day at Sixways Stadium.

England U20 team to face Italy U20:

15. Tom Parton (London Irish)
14. Sam Aspland-Robinson (Harlequins)
13. Dominic Morris (Saracens)
12. Max Wright (Yorkshire Carnegie)
11. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
10. Jacob Umaga (Wasps)
9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
1. Ollie Dawe (Bristol Rugby)
2. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons)
3. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby)
4. Josh Caulfield (Exeter Chiefs)
5. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens)
6. Jack Nay (Saracens)
7. Ben Curry (Sale Sharks)
8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) (capt) 

Replacements:

16. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby)
17. Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby)
18. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
19. Max Davies (Newcastle Falcons)
20. Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby)
21. Rory Brand (London Irish)
22. Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
23. Joe Cokanasiga (London Irish)

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