Hepher excited by quality in Saxons squad

  • England Saxons to play South Africa A twice
  • Both games live on Sky Sports

England Saxons head coach Ali Hepher admits he is excited by the wealth of talent he has at his disposal ahead of the tour to South Africa.

Hepher, an assistant coach at Premiership finalists Exeter Chiefs, will lead a 26-man squad into two clashes with South Africa A on 10 and 17 June.

The party includes numerous fully-fledged internationals with Gloucester flanker Matt Kvesic, Exeter utility-back Ollie Devoto, Bath lock Dave Attwood and Wasps hooker Tommy Taylor all playing a part in England’s 27-13 victory over Wales on Sunday.


That senior experience will be vital on tour, according to Hepher, who cannot wait to see what his summer charges can do against their South African counterparts.  

“As a management team we are certainly excited about it and we want to see how far we can take these guys, and there’s no better place to be going than South Africa,” said Hepher.

“We’ve got to lean on (the experienced players) – ultimately this trip will be driven by them. We’ll help out and guide them along the way but it’s their careers we’re trying to push on into that main squad.

He added: “Results will play a big factor in that. You bang in two wins and Eddie [Jones] is going to be looking very closely at that. If one player performs well then it rubs off to the next and the next.

“We need to gel this side quickly but allow them an opportunity to express themselves with the way they play the game.

“They’re all fantastic players in their own right, they’ve done it all season and there’s no reason that can’t continue in South Africa.”


Chiefs back coach Hepher is the mastermind of a unit that racked up the most tries (77) in the Premiership this season.

Respective Wasps and Northampton Saints assistant coaches, Andy Titterell and Alan Dickens, join him on tour alongside team manager – and 2003 World Cup winner – Richard Hill.

“I haven’t been in an international environment before – it’s good for me and will spark life into my coaching as much as anything," he said,

“But also the other guys will have different perspectives, I’ll pick up things off them, and we’ll become better coaches as a result.

“South Africa will bring absolute quality, they’re a passionate country and are obviously rugby mad.

“It’ll be a tough challenge but those are the challenges you want to meet – and we’ll do so front on.”