Former Oundle School player Tom Curry, now a Sale flanker, will become England’s youngest debutant for 19 years when he wins his first cap against Argentina tomorrow (June 10)
Curry, who will make his international debut five days before his 19th birthday, is one of four new faces in Eddie Jones’ starting line-up for the first Test against the Pumas in San Juan, with another seven uncapped players on the bench.
Curry, whose twin brother Ben was ruled out of contention through injury, was not born when Jonny Wilkinson, England’s current youngest debutant, played against Ireland in April 1998, at the age of 18 years and 341 days.
Jones is forced to field one of the youngest England teams on record after being denied the services of no fewer than 30 players through injury, suspension and British and Irish Lions calls, but he insists the newcomers are ready.
“My principle has always been that, if a player is good enough, you play him whether he is old or young,” Jones said. “Some players at 18 are much more mature than players at 28. There were no qualms at all about throwing him (Tom Curry) in.
“I’m really excited about this England team. I have selected a group of experienced players across the spine of this team as well as four young players who will be eager to go out and play well on their debuts for England.
“Those players have worked extremely hard to get selected over the last few weeks but I have been impressed with the way the whole squad has trained and gelled together in a short amount of time.
“They all realise the opportunity that they have to be involved in this England side and I’m sure they will show that commitment on Saturday.
“We are here to win this series 2-0 but we know Argentina will be extremely tough opposition. After a mixed year of results, there will be pressure on them to play well and win in front of a partisan crowd.
“We know Argentina are a very good side having played them earlier this season and they will be desperate to win against us.”
Saracens centre Alex Lozowski, Exeter prop Harry Williams and Newcastle flanker Mark Wilson are the other new faces in the starting team, while among those waiting on the bench are cross-code winger Denny Solomona and Northampton fly-half Piers Francis, who joined up with the squad on Monday from Auckland.
Wilson got the nod after fellow flankers Chris Robshaw and Sam Underhill were ruled out with ankle and neck injuries respectively but Jones is happy with his back-row combination.
“We have got one fetcher in Curry, one grafter in Wilson and one runner in (Nathan) Hughes,” Jones added.
“Wilson is a good tough player, quite similar to Robshaw. He’s a hard worker, he makes his tackles, makes his clean-outs and does all the unseen work. He is a very tough player. He has impressed since he has come into camp and really deserves his opportunity.”
Jones expects Robshaw and Underhill both to be available for the second Test in Sante Fe on Saturday week.
Meanwhile, Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley leads the side in what will be his 85th cap, taking him ahead of former captain Martin Johnson and alongside Rory Underwood and Lawrence Dallaglio as the third-equal most capped England international of all time.
Despite its youthful nature, the starting XV still boasts a total of 345 caps, with vice-captains George Ford, Danny Care and Mike Brown accounting for 166 of those between them.
England team to play Argentina
15. Mike Brown, vc (Harlequins, 60 caps)
14. Marland Yarde (Harlequins, 11 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 5 caps)
12. Alex Lozowski (Saracens, uncapped)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 25 caps)
10. George Ford, vc (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)
9. Danny Care, vc (Harlequins, 71 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 1 cap)
2. Dylan Hartley, c (Northampton Saints, 84 caps)
3. Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
4. Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 42 caps)
5. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)
6. Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, uncapped)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
8. Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 8 caps)
16. Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)
17. Matt Mullan (Wasps, 15 caps)
18. Will Collier (Harlequins, uncapped)
19. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, uncapped)
20. Don Armand (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
21. Jack Maunder (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)
22. Piers Francis (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
23. Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks, uncapped)