New faces as England prepare for Baa-Baas
May 27, 2009
Chris Robshaw will make his first appearance for England against the Barbarians © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has included a host of new faces in his side to face the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday. Saracens lock Steve Borthwick will lead a young and pacy side for the non-cap international, with Leicester openside Lewis Moody making a long-awaited return to the international stage.
Harlequins duo Chris Robshaw and Jordan Turner-Hall, the Guinness Premiership Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season, have been rewarded for excellent seasons with starts on the blindside and inside-centre respectively, with Bath wing Matt Banahan and Newcastle prop Dave Wilson also earning their first appearances in an England shirt. Ben Foden starts on the wing, with Delon Armitage at fullback, while Jamie Noon, Andy Goode and Danny Care complete the backline.
Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley earns his first start for England after winning nine caps off the bench, with Tim Payne completing the front-row. Louis Deacon of Leicester partners Borthwick in the second-row and Nick Easter anchors the pack at No.8.
On the bench, Steve Thompson makes a long-awaited return to England colours with James Haskell and Steffon Armitage offering pace and power as back-row cover. Toulon-bound utility back Tom May also gets a place among the replacements.
Johnson justified playing Foden out of position by saying that his start on the wing allowed the England management to have a closer look at him after his cameo at scrum-half on debut against Italy during the Six Nations.
"Right wing is an opportunity to get Ben onto the field," said Johnson. "He's played on the wing at Sale and also plays scrum-half and full-back so we know he has utility value. He had bit of a chance in the Six Nations and this is an opportunity for us to have a look at him. We know he's talented - he's elusive and powerful.
"On the other wing there aren't any other guys that have Matt's physical skills. Matt's height, power and size are something that we must make the most of. He's played well for Bath this year."
Johnson also confirmed that Danny Cipriani would be fit to take his place with the Saxons after undergoing tests on a sore ankle. Cipriani is still on the Lions' standby list and Johnson maintained that his soreness was an after-effect of the serious injury that he suffered last year.
"Last Thursday Danny came in to see our medical guys. He was a bit sore but fit to play," he said. "They didn't see any reason why Danny couldn't go on the Saxons tour. The Lions made an enquiry about his fitness and our medical team relayed our conversation to them.
"I'm not aware Danny had a fitness test with Lions. They have their criteria of what fitness they want players to be in when they go. He'll be assessed again this week and we're happy with the progress he's making. If he continues progressing like he is then he'll be ready for the Saxons. Danny hasn't played since the April 25. He's sore and had that serious injury with his ankle."
England: D Armitage (London Irish); B Foden (Northampton), J Noon (Newcastle), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), M Banahan (Bath); A Goode (Brive), D Care (Harlequins); T Payne (Wasps), D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Newcastle), S Borthwick (Saracens, capt), L Deacon (Leicester), C Robshaw (Harlequins), L Moody (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: S Thompson (Brive), N Wood (Gloucester), C Jones (Sale Sharks), S Armitage (London Irish), J Haskell (Wasps), P Hodgson (London Irish), T May (Newcastle)
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson