England A given licence to thrill as Saints coach Vesty prepares for Portugal clash

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If you think England A will play exactly like England, think again.

That is because although Red Rose boss Steve Borthwick has selected the squad, he hasn't passed down instructions on the kind of game plan he wants to see put in place.

And that means Sunday's clash with Portugal should be an exciting prospect, especially because Saints head coach Sam Vesty is in charge of the England A attack.

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Borthwick's England are known for being very methodical and direct, whereas Vesty loves to see a team play what's in front of them.

Sam Vesty (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Sam Vesty (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Sam Vesty (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Portugal, if the recent Rugby World Cup is anything to go by, are likely to employ a similarly expansive style, and that should make for a fun contest at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

When asked whether the England A coaching team, which also includes George Skivington and Dom Waldouck, have been told how the side is expected to play by senior management, Vesty said: "We're being given licence to coach how we see fit, coach how we think, so it's not come from above.

"Simplicity is your best friend so you keep everything as simple as possible and get the guys, with a few simple messages, to try to attack in the same way.

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“It's a challenge, a very different challenge and you can't put too many parameters on stuff because players have only got a week to try to learn stuff.

“You've got to keep it nice and simple and then get loads of energy, get your heads up and play what's in front of us.”

Saints have two players in the England A 23, with Tom Pearson starting and Tarek Haffar on the bench.

"It will be really exciting for Tarek because it will be a different challenge to what he's used to off the pitch,” Vesty said.

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“Hopefully he picks up lots of things from the different coaches that are there and then hopefully he gets a chance to put his power game on the field, which will be great to watch.

"TP has been training with the England group and he really wants to go and put his best foot forward to show what he's about and stake his claim for one of the back row shirts in the full team.”

While it is an honour for the players to be involved, it is also an honour for Vesty to have been given the call.

And he said: “It's really exciting to go and work with a really good, young, talented group and see what they can do. I love working with young guys, guys with high potential and it's a dream fit.

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"I'm chuffed to be given the privilege of helping these guys put their best foot forward and show everyone what a good, young, talented England team there is underneath the first team.”

Sunday’s game kicks off at 1pm and will be streamed live on England Rugby social media channels.

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