independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Calum Clark gets England nod for Six Nations after serving 32 week ban

Northampton forward Calum Clark has been recalled to the England squad for the RBS 6 Nations after serving a 32-week ban for breaking the elbow of an opponent.

Clark, who was on the fringes of the national team this time last year, is one of two uncapped players in the 33-man squad along with Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees.



Joe Launchbury, Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola and Freddie Burns have all been formally promoted into the senior squad after impressing during England's autumn international campaign.



England's search for a left wing has led to a return for David Strettle in place of Charlie Sharples, who is more at home on the right, and James Haskell has replaced Phil Dowson in the back row.



Youngs has taken the place of injured Bath hooker Rob Webber, Launchbury has ousted Wasps team-mate Tom Palmer and Vunipola is an additional selection in an expanded 33-man squad.



Head coach Stuart Lancaster has dropped centres Anthony Allen and Jordan Turner-Hall for Burns and Twelvetrees. Clark has been preferred to Mouritz Botha.



The combative 23-year-old gives England options in both the back row and second row, offering the same versatility as his Northampton colleague Courtney Lawes.



Lancaster has been a long-time admirer of Clark's ability and he selected the Leeds academy graduate for last year's Six Nations squad.



But Clark's career was put on hold in March, when he pleaded guilty to breaking the elbow of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins in the LV= Cup final.



Clark's ban ran from March 22 to November 1, ruling him out of England's summer tour plans and the QBE autumn international series but Lancaster has afforded him a second chance.



Twelvetrees has excelled in his first season at Gloucester, playing alongside Burns and both have been rewarded with their first formal call-ups.



The two playmakers trained with England during the autumn and Burns made an eye-catching debut off the bench in the 38-21 victory over New Zealand.



Burns, Launchbury, Vunipola and Youngs were all technically injury replacements when they were capped in the autumn series but they have now been formally selected.



Tom Croft has been included after overcoming a career-threatening neck injury but he is unlikely to feature in the Six Nations, with medics closely managing his return to action.



As a result, Vunipola's younger brother Billy, the dynamic Wasps number eight, will train with England in their pre-Six Nations camp in Leeds later this month.



Strettle returns to provide options on the left wing, which has been Lancaster's problem position. Full-backs Mike Brown and Ben Foden have both been used there in recent Tests.



Sharples started in the 11 jersey against Australia but he drops down to the England Saxons, where he will find competition from Wasps wing Christian Wade and Bath's former rugby league star Kyle Eastmond.



The Saxons squad includes another converted league player in Saracens' centre Joel Tomkins.



The Saxons play the Irish Wolfhounds on January 25 and Scotland A in Newcastle on February 1.



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