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Rugby World Cup
England confirm World Cup squad
ESPNscrum Staff
August 22, 2011

England manager Martin Johnson has named his 30-man squad for next month's Rugby World Cup.

Wasps centre Riki Flutey, who started the recent victory over Wales on August 6, is the biggest casualty with his uncapped club-mate Joe Simpson the beneficiary of a toe injury to scrum-half Danny Care that ruled him out of the tournament last week.

It was reported that Johnson had intended to take two No.9s to New Zealand but the injury to Care and the fact that Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs is still recovering from knee surgery caused a re-think. Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth earned a promotion as a result with Johnson opting to bolster his options further with the inclusion of Simpson. As a result, another player had to be sacrificed with Flutey the one to be dropped.

Johnson has opted for a 17-13 split between forwards and backs with Bath flanker Lewis Moody, one of five survivors from England's World Cup-winning squad of 2003, set to retain the captaincy of the side despite concerns over his fitness. Eleven members of the squad have featured in previous tournaments and eight appeared in the 2007 final defeat to South Africa.

The squad boasts a blend of experience and youth ranging from Toulon fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who is heading to his fourth World Cup, to the untried Simpson, who is the only uncapped player. Veteran Wasps lock Simon Shaw, who will turn 38 before the start of the tournament, is the oldest player and Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi, at 20, the youngest.

"The composition of the squad is very important and we think we have the right mix in this group," said Johnson. "There were some very tough phone calls made last week; everybody came into this camp and worked extremely hard and some players have just missed out.

"For us now though it is important to look forward - there is great sense of unity in this group and we are pleased with the depth across the squad. We have a number of leaders and experienced players and have named Lewis Moody as squad captain, we are confident he will play a pivotal role for us in New Zealand."

England complete their preparations against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday and Johnson is aware there is still plenty of work to do. "Ultimately our aim this week is to prepare well for Ireland and to continue improving as a team," he added. "We are all looking forward to the tournament and know that selecting the 30 man squad is just the beginning."

Wilkinson and Leicester's Toby Flood are the long-standing fly-half options while Northampton's Chris Ashton and Sale's Mark Cueto are the only recognised wingers in the squad. Bath's Matt Banahan will provide cover out wide but will also be in the midfield mix alongside London Irish's Shontayne Hape, Gloucester's Mike Tindall and Leicester's Manu Tuilagi. London Irish's Delon Armitage and Northampton's Ben Foden are the chosen fullback options.

Up front, the versatility of Saracens prop Matt Stevens and Bath's David Wilson ensure their passage and they will be joined in the front row reserves by Leicester's Dan Cole, London Irish's Alex Corbisiero and Sale's Andrew Sheridan. Wasps' Steve Thompson is set to continue to deputise for first-choice hooker Dylan Hartley.

Leicester's Louis Deacon, Northampton's Courtney Lawes and Stade Francais' Tom Palmer join Shaw in the second row pool with Leicester flanker Tom Croft another option should he be needed. The latter also forms part of a competitive back-row selection that includes Harlequins' Nick Easter, Japan-bound James Haskell and Northampton's Tom Wood. Sale openside Hendre Fourie, who started against Wales in Cardiff in the second of England's warm-up clashes, is another who failed to make the grade.

Ten players left out of the squad will remain on call should injuries affect the squad in the final warm-up match against Ireland, or in while in New Zealand. They are Flutey, Care, Fourie, Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester Rugby), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Paul Doran Jones (Northampton Saints),Tim Payne (London Wasps) and Ugo Monye (Harlequins).

England kick off their World Cup campaign against Argentina on September 10 before tackled their other Pool B rivals Georgia (September 18), Romania (September 24) and Scotland (October 1).

England:

Backs (13): Delon Armitage (London Irish), Ben Foden (Northampton Saints). Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Matt Banahan (Bath). Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers). Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon). Joe Simpson (London Wasps), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).

Forwards: (17): Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Matt Stevens (Saracens), David Wilson (Bath). Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Lee Mears (Bath), Steve Thompson (London Wasps), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Tom Palmer (Stade Français), Simon Shaw (London Wasps). Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Nick Easter (Harlequins), James Haskell (Ricoh Black Rams), Lewis Moody (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints).

Missed the cut: Tim Payne (London Wasps), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton), George Chuter (Leicester), Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Joe Worsley (London Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Hendre Fourie (Sale Sharks), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Ugo Monye (Harlequins), Charlie Sharples (Gloucester), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), David Strettle (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins - injured)

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