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Bath Rugby prop Dave Wilson joins England elite squad

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 26, 2012

Bath forward Dave Wilson has been called into the England elite squad

Bath forward Dave Wilson has been called into the England elite squad

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Bath prop Dave Wilson has been promoted into England’s elite squad for the QBE autumn Test series in place of Matt Stevens, who has retired from international rugby.

Wilson, who won the last of his 19 caps against Romania in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, has been replaced in the England Saxons squad by Saracens prop Mako Vunipola.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster will wait to assess his options before deciding how to replace full-back Ben Foden, who underwent ankle ligament surgery yesterday and will miss the four-match campaign.

But Lancaster is hopeful that the injured trio of Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs, lock Louis Deacon and London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero will all be back in action by mid-October.

England open the series against Fiji on November 10 before tackling Australia, South Africa and world champions New Zealand on successive Saturdays at Twickenham.

As part of their preparations for the campaign, Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team will travel to South Africa to watch the Springboks play New Zealand in Soweto on October 6.

“The three sides we are playing from the Rugby Championship all play very differently,” Lancaster said.

“We are going to have to have a different gameplan to suit each side we play and adapt from game to game.

“New Zealand are the form side but they have been pushed, not only in the summer by Ireland, but also Argentina and South Africa in the last Test.

“There are some great challenges coming around the corner and it is great to benchmark ourselves.”

England are currently ranked fourth in the world, a position they must retain through the autumn campaign if they are to be one of the top seeds for the 2015 World Cup when the draw is made on December 3.

“It is the back of my mind but I don’t think it is an area I will be driving as a motivator for the players.

“It would be advantageous (to be in the top four) without a doubt. But to win a World Cup you have to beat good sides along the way, whether you are seeded first or fifth.”

Lancaster and Andy Farrell yesterday launched the BMW Performance Academy, which forms part of the Rugby Football Union’s national academy programme.

More than 30 players have been selected by the England coaches from the Under-16s, Under-18s, Under-20s and those on the fringes of the Saxons squad to receive tailored support in the academy.

The programme will include personal development training, access to some of BMW’s Olympic ambassadors such as London 2012 gymnast Louis Smith and work experience.

“An individual development plan will look at five areas – physical, technical, tactical, lifestyle and psychology,” Lancaster said.

“The priority for me is to make sure we have a pipeline of players coming through to (the World Cup in) 2015 and beyond. This relationship with BMW will be of huge benefit to us.”

As part of the deal, BMW have also become the new shirt sponsor for England’s age-group teams.

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