Northampton prop Alex Waller added to England squad for New Zealand tour
First Test to be shown live on Sky Sports on Saturday morning
Last Updated: 02/06/14 3:02pm
Alex Waller: England call for Northampton hero
England have included Northampton prop Alex Waller among the additions to their squad for the tour of New Zealand.
Waller, who scored the match-winning try for Saints in extra-time in the Aviva Premiership play-off final victory over Saracens, replaces knee-injury victim Mako Vunipola.
The 24-year-old is among 16 players – the bulk of whom played at Twickenham on Saturday - who will depart for New Zealand on Monday night in time to compete for selection for the second and third Tests against the All Blacks.
Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell and No 8 Billy Vunipola will both be on the flight despite suffering cramp in the final, as is Saints hooker Dylan Hartley who completed his comeback from a shoulder injury at Twickenham. Further additions have been drawn from Bath and Harlequins with Anthony Watson and Kyle Sinckler joining the party.
"We are looking forward to the guys flying in and adding to the group," said England head coach Stuart Lancaster, whose side face the All Blacks in the first Test in Auckland this Saturday. "We watched the Premiership final and the England XV game against the Barbarians and are pleased with how the players performed and came through.
"There are no major injuries which would prevent anyone flying and, with four big games to come, we are confident there will be opportunities for everyone on the tour.
"It is great to be able to work with a wider group and we feel that the younger players will really benefit from the experience of coming to New Zealand, understanding the culture and challenging themselves in this the most competitive of environments."
Billy Twelvetrees remains an injury doubt for England - the Gloucester centre is still undergoing treatment for the ankle injury that has kept him out of action for the last month. However, Graham Rowntree is confident that England have the strength in depth to cope with any injuries.
"You have to have that confidence because we train hard – and we have confidence that what we do in training is right," he told Sky Sports News. "If you sprinkle a little bit of youthful enthusiasm and energy on top then we’re going to be a tough team to beat.
"Guys like Johnny May and Luther Burrell in the Six Nations – they picked things up quickly and now they’re pushing for a regular place. These guys have trained really hard and they’re desperate to do well."
England squad additions: C Ashton (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens), L Burrell (Northampton), L Dickson (Northampton), O Farrell (Saracens), B Foden (Northampton), A Goode (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton), C Lawes (Northampton), S Myler (Northampton), K Sinckler (Harlequins), B Vunipola (Saracens), A Waller (Northampton), A Watson (Bath), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton).
Watch England take on New Zealand in the first Test live on Sky Sports 1 at 8am on Saturday.