A trio of Northampton Saints starlets have been included in England’s under-20s Elite Player Squad (EPS) for the 2017/18 season.
Prop Toby Trinder, centre Fraser Dingwall and fly-half James Grayson are all selected from the Academy ranks at Franklin’s Gardens and will be led by head coach Steve Bates for the 2018 Six Nations as well as the World Rugby under-20 Championship in May.
Grayson, 19, has featured eight times for the Saints’ first team already this term – making his first Aviva Premiership start away at Sale Sharks – and was part of the England group that reached the final of last summer’s World Rugby under-20s Championship in Georgia.
Dingwall meanwhile is also included, with the 18-year-old progressing from the England under-18s squad that toured South Africa last summer.
And 19-year-old Trinder, who has come through the Saints junior and senior academies, earns his first call-up for the under-20s after representing both the under-17s and under-19s in recent seasons.
“We’re delighted to see three of our brightest talents recognised by England at international level, and huge congratulations must go to James, Fraser and Toby for their performances in the first half of the season,” said Saints Academy manager Simon Sinclair.
“It just goes to show the strength in depth we have here at Northampton, and I’m confident all three of the guys will thrive within the international environment.
“James has already had a taste of first-team action here at Franklin’s Gardens, but all three are deserving of their place amongst England’s elite young players.”
The squad will come together for a training camp at Bisham Abbey Sports Centre from 7-12 January before the Six Nations begins, with England opening up their campaign against Italy on February 2.
“This is a new group of players with new coaches also so although we head into the Six Nations as defending champions we do not carry the pressure of that tag,” said head coach Steve Bates.
“We have a proud history in the tournament but we will be looking to create our own legacy with what is a new set up.
“I expect us to be physical, uncompromising and we’ll play high-intensity, high-tempo rugby. We’ve got some very exciting young backs so if we can create some space for them we’ll be a threat. That is what we’re concentrating on.”