Catt gets another England life

Ben Kay is the only member of the successful England World Cup starting XV that will play Australia in a two-test series next month.

England coach Andy Robinson has rested most of his familiar faces for the end of season tour, but age has not been a factor in his selections. He has included South African-born utility back Mike Catt, 34, on the basis of his form for London Irish this season.

Catt’s last England appearance was in the 51-15 defeat against the Wallabies in Brisbane in 2004.

England’s front row wobbles – Phil Vickery, Matt Stevens and Andrew Sheridan are all injured – means a recall for veteran Graham Rowntree.

“The squad for Australia is a mix of experience and youth,” said Robinson. “I’ve deliberately decided to rest some players to ensure they’re in the best shape they could possibly be in ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2007. I think a lot of people in the game have recognised the importance of players needing adequate rest periods once the season has finished and if necessary during the season itself.

“It’s essential that the players not going on the tour have the opportunity to refresh themselves and come back to the game ready to prepare for a very challenging season for club and country.

“For those players who are having operations I’d like to wish them a speedy recovery and the England medical team will be working with the club medics to ensure that they return to playing when the time is right for them.

“The tour does however give a number of players the opportunity to stake their own claims for a place in the RWC 30-man squad and a tour to Australia will present them with one of the toughest challenges any side will face.

“I’ve also selected some players who have a lot of international experience like Mike Catt, Ben Kay, Graham Rowntree and Joe Worsley to provide a good blend with the younger players. These are players the newcomers to the squad can learn from and they will benefit from doing so.

“I’m excited about working with players like Tom Varndell and Mathew Tait, who makes a welcome return to the squad after performing so well for the England Sevens side this season and for Newcastle Falcons.

“The side to play the Barbarians on Sunday May 28 in the Gartmore Challenge at Twickenham will be drawn from the squad to tour Australia and the game will provide the squad with valuable international match time ahead of the Test matches.”

England squad:

Backs: Stuart Abbott (London Wasps), Iain Balshaw (Leeds Tykes), Olly Barkley (Bath), Scott Bemand (Leicester Tigers), Mike Catt (London Irish), Andy Goode (Leicester Tigers), Jamie Noon (Newcastle Falcons), Peter Richards (Gloucester), James Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), Mathew Tait (Newcastle Falcons), Mark Van Gisbergen (London Wasps), Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers), Tom Voyce London (Wasps), Nick Walshe (Bath).

Forwards: Duncan Bell (Bath) , Alex Brown (Gloucester), George Chuter (Leicester Tigers), Louis Deacon (Leicester Tigers), Chris Jones (Sale Sharks), Ben Kay (Leicester Tigers), Michael Lipman (Bath), Magnus Lund (Sale Sharks), Lee Mears (Bath), Lewis Moody (Leicester Tigers), Tim Payne (London Wasps), Graham Rowntree (Leicester Tigers), Pat Sanderson (Worcester Warriors, captain), Andy Titterrell (Sale Sharks), Julian White (Leicester Tigers), Joe Worsley (London Wasps).