Sheridan returns for England
November 2, 2010
Sale's Andrew Sheridan will make a welcome return to the international arena this weekend © Getty Images
England have been buoyed by the return of powerful prop Andrew Sheridan for Saturday's mouth-watering match-up with New Zealand at Twickenham.
The Sale Sharks loose-head has not played for his country in just under two years because of a shoulder injury sustained in October 2009 but Sheridan, now fully rehabilitated, has reclaimed his place in the front-row from London Wasps' Tim Payne in the only change to the side which defeated Australia in June. Consequently, Sheridan will line up alongside Leeds veteran Steve Thompson, who has held off fierce competition from Northampton's Dylan Hartley for the hooking berth, and Leicester's Dan Cole.
Bath flanker Lewis Moody continues as captain after recovering from a recent eye injury, while former New Zealand rugby league star Shontayne Hape will start against his compatriots after holding on to the No.12 jersey.
Hape is one of five players who will be making their first Test appearances at Twickenham, with the others being fullback Ben Foden, wing Chris Ashton, scrum-half Ben Youngs and lock Courtney Lawes.
With Jonny Wilkinson having been ruled out of the November Tests through injury, Leicester Tigers fly-half Toby Flood has again been entrusted with the playmaking duties, with Sale's Charlie Hodgson, returning to an England match squad for the first time in two years, providing cover from the bench. Also included amongst the replacements are Bath prop David Wilson, who has been preferred to the axed Payne, and uncapped duo Dave Attwood and Hendrie Fourie.
Ahead of the game, England's defence coach Mike Ford has warned New Zealand to be prepared for a clash of styles and an "old-fashioned" showdown. "Everyone is talking about how many tries are going to be scored, how quick the rucks are and how exciting it is - but our job defensively is to work out a way to stop that. We're pretty confident that we can do that.
"Our mentality has changed defensively. We have a 'no excuse' mentality. It's never a case of us saying: 'They've just scored one so we'll go back and score one at the other end'. We want to make this a good, old-fashioned Test rugby game. Whatever you think that means, we know what it means. We're pretty confident about what we can do defensively.
"When the players keep hearing about how exciting it is, deep down they will be putting the shutters up. They know that on Saturday, when we haven't got the ball we are going to endeavour to produce one of the best defensive performances ever."
The key for Ford's plan is that England cannot afford to wait until next week to learn their lesson - they need to target All Blacks captain and openside flanker Richie McCaw. "We're miles in front of where we were this time last year," he said. We've put things into place so we can hit the ground running on Saturday and make sure that everything comes to fruition.
"Richie McCaw is their talisman and it isn't rocket science to work out that if we can negate his strengths and put him under pressure that it's a big part of their game gone. If we can show that he does have weaknesses, it will go a long way to helping us win the game."
England team v New Zealand B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), M Tindall (Gloucester), S Hape (Bath), M Cueto (Sale); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); A Sheridan (Sale), S Thompson (Leeds), D Cole (Leicester); C Lawes (Northampton), T Palmer (Stade Francais); T Croft (Leicester), L Moody (Bath, capt), N Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), D Attwood (Gloucester), H Fourie (Leeds), D Care (Harlequins), C Hodgson (Sale), D Armitage (London Irish).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter