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Dingwall named skipper as three Saints selected for England U20s opener

Fraser Dingwall will captain England under-20s for their Six Nations opener this Friday in Ireland, with Northampton Saints' Ollie Sleightholme and Alex Coles also selected to debut in Cork by head coach Steve Bates.

Dingwall, 19, starts at outside centre for his second Six Nations campaign with the Red Rose – and the accolade continues a stellar breakthrough season for the young Saint, having impressed in all competitions after making his senior debut in Black, Green and Gold back in October.

Meanwhile lock Coles and wing Sleightholme will make their U20s debuts; both players also made their first-team Northampton debuts earlier this season, with Sleightholme scoring seven tries in as many appearances so far and Coles crossing the whitewash against Timisoara Saracens earlier this month.

“Seeing Fraser, Ollie and Alex starting for England is another great achievement for our Academy.”

Simon Sinclair, Academy manager

“Fraser, Ollie and Alex all starting for England is another great achievement for everyone involved in our Academy who are supporting these lads day in, day out,” said Simon Sinclair, Saints Academy manager.

"For Ollie and Alex, this is another really important step in their development. We have really high hopes for them at Saints and it's fantastic they each have a couple of familiar Northampton faces playing alongside them.

“I'm delighted for Fraser who has worked as hard as anyone else in the squad this season and is reaping the rewards; we've known for a long time he's a special talent, and I know he has what it takes to lead his country with distinction.

“Everyone at the Club will be supporting these three on Friday evening and for the rest of the Championship.”

Dingwall is one of seven players named in the starting XV who played in the final of the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship in France, with Worcester Warriors' Ted Hill, Harlequins' Marcus Smith and Wasps' Tom Willis other high-profile inclusions.

England under-20s will round off their Six Nations campaign on Northampton soil, with their final match of the championship against Scotland being held at Franklin's Gardens on Friday 15 March (kick-off 7.45pm).

Tickets are available now from £10 adults and £5 juniors by CLICKING HERE.

Head coach Bates added: “The message to the squad this week has been that this is a great opportunity for them to show how good they are at the start of another Six Nations campaign, and they should play with confidence.

“This is a very exciting, talented group of players and they should not forget to play like it; we have to go out there on Friday and really express ourselves on the pitch but we know we have to respect the opposition who will be positive about their chances in this competition as well.

“This is a team full of experience, who are hugely talented and it is a shame we can only pick 15 as we’ve left out some very good players.”

England U20s to play Ireland

15 Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)
14 Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints)
13 Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)

12 Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers)
11 Cadan Murley (Harlequins)
10 Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
9 Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs)

1 Olly Adkins (Gloucester)
2 Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks)
3 Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
4 Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
5 Alex Coles (Northampton Saints)
6 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
7 Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester)
8 Tom Willis (Wasps)

Replacements:
16 Ben Atkins (London Irish)
17 Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks)
18 Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers)
19 James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
20 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)
21 Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie)
22 Cameron Redpath (Sale Sharks)
23 Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors)

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