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Home > News > England Counties follow with tradition
Your News England Counties follow with tradition

The England RU Counties XV coaching staff is unchanged; the management has been tweaked; but the composition of the squad to face an Ireland Clubs XB in Dublin on Friday, February 27 (kick-off 5pm) is faithful to the team tradition in that of the 22 players in the squad, 15 will be making their Counties debuts at Donnybrook.

Continuity from the squad that was unbeaten on the tour to the USA and Canada last summer is fairly modest and comes in the shape of captain Liam Wordley, who successfully led the side on that three-match trip, scrum-half James Doherty and flanker James Kellard.

Northumbrian Danny Hodgson continues as Manager, while Michael Old, a selector for that tour, is the new Assistant Manager.

"I'm pleased with the way selection has unfolded," says Hodgson, who has been part of the team management since the Counties XV was first created in 2002.

"We have a handful of experienced players who have been with us before and understand the ethos of how we try to play the game. But we also have a sizeable batch of players who are new to the Counties XV, the representative flagship of the County and Community game.

"That is always an exciting prospect for the management and a challenge for the coaches, who do not have long to weld the side into a coherent unit.

"As we discovered on our last - and first - visit to Dublin two years ago, the Irish take this level of representative Rugby very seriously and there is immense pride in pulling on the green jersey. I know they will be a very strong side once again and we will need to hit the ground running to avenge a narrow defeat."

Said management newcomer Old, son of British Lion Alan: "After involvement in last year's selection and observing the interaction of management, coaches and players for the few days I spent with the squad and management on the US tour in May I decided to apply for the post.

"I am very enthusiastic and a huge supporter of the game below the Premiership and the County game, so this opportunity to work with Danny and the coaches again is extremely exciting.

"Also, being involved this season with the Ireland and France games in early 2009 at such famous venues as Donnybrook and Twickenham and then touring Korea and Japan will be an amazing experience for everyone involved."

The Counties XV break new ground on two fronts - they will play at Twickenham for the first time when they entertain their long-established rivals France Amateurs on Sunday, March 15 (ko 5.30) after the Six Nations Championship game and they will then have a three-match tour to Korea and Japan from June 1/15.

England Counties (v Ireland Clubs XV in Dublin, Friday, February 27, 5pm: backs - Rickie Aley (Nuneaton), Mark Bedworth (Wharfedale), Adam Billig (Stourbridge), Mark Billings (Southend), Robert Cook (Nuneaton), James Doherty (Wharfedale), Jack Harrison (Tynedale), Christopher Johnson (Huddersfield), Alex Page (Blackheath), Sam Smith (Blackheath). Forwards - Darren Fox (Cambridge), Ben Gerry (Stourbridge), Rupert Harden (Tynedale), Darren Jaques (Redruth), James Kellard (Barking), Simon Legg (Blackheath), Joshua Lord (Launceston), Mike Myerscough (Launceston), Robert Baldwin (Wharfedale), Thomas Bason (Blackheath), James Rule (Hull Ionians), Liam Wordley (Blackheath).

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