Josh Basham and Hodge in 23 for England's opening world championship match
Newcastle Falcons’ Josh Hodge and Josh Basham have been named on the bench for England’s opening match of the U20s World Championship in Argentina on Tuesday, as former head coach Steve Bates looks to kick off with a win against Ireland.
Hodge, who made seven appearances for the Falcons during their 18/19 Premiership Rugby Shield campaign will be hoping to add to his six U20 caps he has earned already, whilst Basham will be looking to capitalise on his experiences from last year’s tournament, where England finished as runners-up to France.
Taking place in South America, the U20s World Championship runs from June 4 - 22, with England facing Italy on June 8 and Australia on June 12 ahead of the knock out stages beginning on June 17.
A proving ground in which a host of Falcons have shone in the past, Basham and Hodge will be hoping England can maintain their levels of performance in the competition this summer, having made nine finals and lifted the title on three occasions.
Steve Bates said: “The key element is that we are playing the side that won the U20 Six Nations so we know it is going to be a big challenge and we have got to be right at the top of our game. We have to be accurate, we have to be patient and understand that if we don’t play to the best of our ability then this will be a very tough game and even if we do, we realise it will still be tight.
“The players are in really good shape, having now spent a fair amount of time with each other they have gelled extremely well and look to be a tight group and we hope that will translate to a good performance on Tuesday.
“A big factor for us is going to be the experience of our pack, a lot have played in the Premiership already, they have played a lot at U20 level and also in this tournament so they are battle hardened. Having said that we are not going to play a game dominated by our forwards because we have some very exciting and talented backs but we recognise up front will be an area where we can exert some pressure.”
Tuesday’s match kicks off at 19:30 BST and can be watched online via the World Rugby website while ITV4 will screen highlights from all of day one's matches from 23:00 BST