Tuilagi and Waldrom included in England squad
June 19, 2011
Leicester's Samoan-born centre Manu Tuilagi gets down to work with England at Pennyhill Park © Getty Images
Leicester duo Manu Tuilagi and Thomas Waldrom have been included in England's 45-man Rugby World Cup training squad.
Samoan-born Tuilagi, currently serving a ban for punching fellow squad member Chris Ashton earlier this season, and Kiwi Waldrom are two of five uncapped players included in the squad alongside Saracens lock Mouritz Botha, Gloucester wing Charile Sharples and Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson.
There is also a recall for Saracens prop Matt Stevens just six months after completing a two-year drugs ban while England manager Martin Johnson has also rewarded Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw and Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth for their impressive seasons.
South African-born Stevens returned to action in January after serving a two-year suspension for cocaine use and he has not been on a losing side game since, helping Saracens win the Aviva Premiership title and the England Saxons to Churchill Cup success. Capped 32 times by England, Stevens played in the 2007 World Cup final and toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2005.
At the other end of the experience scale, Johnson has drafted Leicester's 20-year-old centre Tuilagi into the training squad after a breakthrough season at Welford Road. Tuilagi, was nearly deported last year after it emerged he did not have the right paperwork to be living in England, was voted the Premiership's young player of the year and would have been part of the Saxons campaign had he not been banned. Tuilagi, who has four brothers who played for Samoa, was granted indefinite leave to stay and declared his international allegiance to England.
Waldrom was born in New Zealand but qualifies to play for England after discovering during this season that his grandmother was born in the country. Botha, who was born in South Africa and qualifies on residency grounds, has been in prime form for Saracens this year and impressed England's coaches during the recent Churchill Cup campaign. Simpson, who was born in Australia but came to England as a youngster, made his senior bow in the non-cap tour game against the Australian Barbarians last summer and trained with the squad during this year's Six Nations.
England's foreign-born legion also includes prop Alex Corbisiero (USA), fullback Delon Armitage (Trinidad), veteran lock Simon Shaw (Kenya), flanker Hendre Fourie (South Africa) along with hooker Dylan Hartley, centres Shontayne Hape and Riki Flutey (all New Zealand).
Among the notable absentees are lock Steve Borthwick, who steered Saracens to the Premiership title earlier this year, Leicester No.8 Jordan Crane, who led the Saxons to Churchill Cup glory at the weekend, Gloucester No.8 Luke Narraway, Saracens centre Brad Barritt, Exeter chiefs flanker Tom Johnson, Northampton flanker Phil Dowson and injured Bath-bound lock Dave Attwood.
Johnson will trim his squad to 30 players ahead of the tournament in New Zealand and insists every player in the expanded group has a chance of boarding the plane. "Every one of these players has the chance to be in that final 30 going to New Zealand. The camp is going to be intense and competitive, as you would expect leading up to a World Cup, but all the players are ready for it," he said.
"We have guys such as Lewis, Jonny and Mike Tindall who have been in this situation before but also a lot of players who won't have experienced a World Cup training camp. It's now up to all of them to set down their marker over the next 10 weeks before we head to New Zealand."
England have picked five centres in Tuilagi, Mike Tindall, Matt Banahan, Riki Flutey and Shontayne Hape. The first-choice back three - Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto - are joined by Sharples, James Simpson-Daniel, Ugo Monye, David Strettle and Delon Armitage while there are four scrum-halves named in Ben Youngs, Danny Care, Wigglesworth and Simpson.
Stevens is one of seven props included but his ability to pack down on both sides of the scrum makes him a favourite to make the cut. Andrew Sheridan, Dan Cole and Corbisiero all started games in the Six Nations and they are joined in the training squad by Stevens, Paul Doran-Jones, David Wilson and Tim Payne.
Waldrom offers potential cover for Nick Easter at No.8 while England boast strength on the flanks with Tom Wood, Tom Croft, James Haskell, Joe Worsley, Lewis Moody and Robshaw all named. In the second row, Botha joins Courtney Lawes, Shaw, Louis Deacon and Tom Palmer while front-line hookers Dylan Hartley and Steve Thompson have been joined by George Chuter and Lee Mears.
England's 45-man Rugby World Cup training squad:
FORWARDS: Mouritz Botha (Saracens), George Chuter (Leicester Tigers), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton Saints), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Hendre Fourie (Sale Sharks), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Unattached), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Lewis Moody (Bath Rugby), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Tim Payne (London Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Simon Shaw (London Wasps), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Steve Thompson (London Wasps), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers), David Wilson (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Joe Worsley (London Wasps).
BACKS: Delon Armitage (London Irish), Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints), Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby), David Strettle (Saracens), Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies