Defending champions England have unveiled their squad for the IRB Junior World Championship 2014 when they will be attempting to do something only hosts New Zealand have done and defend the Under 20 crown.
England became the first northern hemisphere team to lift the coveted trophy after beating Wales in the final in France and the 2014 squad features seven members of that victorious team, including Calum Braley – now captain – and Ross Moriarty.
The English, who had previously lost on three occasions to New Zealand in a JWC final, will go into the tournament on the back of a second place finish in the Under 20 Six Nations, their only defeat coming at the hands of Grand Slam winners France.
“We’re pleased with the balance and experience in this squad, and we are confident that they will perform well in each of our five matches,” admitted Walshe.
“While England Under 20 are the holders of the trophy, this group hasn’t won anything – we enjoyed a successful Six Nations, and while it was disappointing not to win it, as a group we came on hugely. The key is to keep building on that momentum.”
Forwards coach Ian Peel added: “Our focus is on that first game against Italy – we have a warm up match and a camp in Newcastle prior to flying out, but the plan is to build towards that opening match. The games come thick and fast in this tournament, we’ve got a very tough group but we’re excited by that challenge.”
England will face Australia, Argentina and Junior World Rugby Trophy 2013 winners Italy in Pool A at the seventh edition of the Junior World Championship with only the winner guaranteed a place in the semi-finals.
“It’s massively exciting to be heading down to New Zealand to defend our title. Rugby is obviously huge over there and there will be some pressure on us, but we will use that as a positive and look to perform as best we can,” said captain Braley.
Argentina will be England's final opponents in the pool stages on 10 June at QBE Stadium in North Harbour and Los Pumitas' coaches Rodolfo Ambrosio and Nicolás Fernández Lobbe have also selected a squad packed with JWC experience.
Twelve members of the squad that finished sixth in France will return for another tournament, including fly half Patricio Fernández who made his Test debut for the Pumas before JWC 2013 and was part of the Argentina Pampas XV side that won the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup in March.
Los Pumitas will shortly head to South Africa for their traditional pre Junior World Championship series with South Africa. The two sides will meet three times - on 2, 6 and 10 May - with both sides eager to fine-tune their preparations ahead of the tournament in New Zealand.
England Under 20 squad
Forwards: Biyi Alo (Saracens), James Chisholm (Harlequins), Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Jonny Hill (Gloucester Rugby), Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie), Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Gus Jones (London Wasps), Alex Lundberg (London Wasps), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Harry Rudkin (Leicester Tigers), Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers), Jack Walker (Leeds Carnegie), Tom Woolstencroft (Bath Rugby).
Backs: Callum Braley (Bristol Rugby, captain), Billy Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Nathan Earle (Saracens), Tom Fowlie (London Irish), Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues), Sam Olver (Northampton Saints), Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers), Howard Packman (Northampton Saints), Harry Sloan (Harlequins), Tom Stephenson (Northampton Saints), Henry Taylor (Loughborough University), Nick Tompkins (Saracens).
Argentina Under 20 squad
Forwards: Felipe Arregui (Duendes RC), Lautaro Bávaro (Hindú Club), Ignacio Calas (La Tablada), Ignacio David Calles (Liceo Naval), José Deheza (Jockey Club), Ariel Del Cerro (La Plata RC), Facundo Gigena (Tala RC), Ignacio Larrague (CASI), Tomás Lezana (Santiago Lawn Tennis), Santiago Montagner (Asociación Alumni), Guido Petti Pagadizabal (SIC), Enrique Pieretto (Córdoba Athletic), Santiago Portillo (Los Tarcos), Tomás Ramírez (Jockey Club), Vittorio Rosti (Duendes RC), Juan Ignacio Sánchez (Córdoba Athletic).
Backs: Ignacio Albornoz (Tucumán RC), Santiago Álvarez (CASI), Lautaro Basan Vélez (Córdoba Athletic), Juan Bernardini (Urú Curé), Emiliano Boffelli (Duendes RC), Rodrigo Etchart (SIC), Bautista Ezcurra (Hindú Club), Patricio Fernández (Jockey Club), Federico Giménez (Liceo RC), Domingo Miotti (Tucumán Lawn Tennis), Joaquín Riera (Los Tarcos), Germán Schultz (Tala RC).