Robson to lead new-look England
June 11, 2012
Quins' George Robson will lead England in their latest tour outing in Kimberley on Wednesday © Getty Images
Harlequins lock George Robson will captain England in their clash with the SA Barbarians in Kimberley on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old second row will lead a completely different line-up to that which was beaten 22-17 by South Africa in their first Test clash in Durban on Saturday as coach Stuart Lancaster opts to rotate his options ahead of their rematch with the Springboks in Johannesburg this weekend.
Robson will be joined at the GWK Stadium by team-mate Danny Care with the scrum-half set for his first appearance in an England shirt since last August having seen his Rugby World Cup hopes dashed by injury before he was dropped ahead of the Six Nations due to a series of off-field incidents.
Flanker James Haskell is also given a chance to impress ahead of the Test outing at Ellis Park on Saturday in what will be his first England outing since the World Cup. Winger David Strettle, who missed the first Test with a calf injury, is also back in the mix.
Prop Paul Doran Jones, who came off the bench in the 22-17 loss at Kings Park on Saturday, will start at tight-head. Tom Palmer and Lee Dickson, who also had replacements' roles at the weekend, will again be on the bench.
Prop Alex Corbisiero, whose return after a biceps operation has been delayed by a jarred knee, is not included in Wednesday's team and he and winger Ugo Monye remain the only players not to feature so far on tour.
"Every one of the 22 is desperate to play," said Lancaster. "They have trained superbly and their attitude while waiting for their chance has been first class. There is a lot of competition for places across the board and Wednesday gives these players a chance to lay down a marker and for the whole squad to build some momentum towards Saturday's Test.
"George (Robson) has had a tremendous season for Harlequins, has made a great contribution to this tour already, both in training and as part of the leadership group, and I know he will captain the team well. Only Ugo Monye and Alex Corbisiero will not have had any game time by the end of Wednesday but there will still be three matches to go and their opportunity will come."
Lancaster also revealed that while his side for Saturday is almost decided there is stil a chance for one or two players to force their way into contention. "We are close to being final for Saturday but there are definitely one or two players we are looking at with a view to potentially coming in, although more likely on the bench than starting," he said.
"For me it is about building a squad. There is nothing better as a coach than working with players on the training field or judging them and working with them at games, seeing their reaction at full-time or half-time and playing in different environments."
There is no place for London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph in the line-up following his eye-catching cameo for the Test side last weekend, leading to speculation he will feature again this weekend but Lancaster refused to confirm his plans.
"There are quite a few players who were involved in last Saturday's game who are going to be involved in this Saturday's game," he said. "He is definitely one of those who did well when he came on. It was only a small appearance but he did well in the Barbarians game [last month] and he is definitely in the mix for Saturday."
Lancaster added: "I am trying to look at options for England at outside centre. Anthony [Allen] has played there before. The thinking is Anthony will start there and then move inside with George Lowe coming on. Jordan Turner-Hall deserves a start at inside centre, he has had a good season. It is about trying to create opportunities rather than pigeon-holing people into positions this early on."
The SA Barbarians have made one change to their line-up for the match after replacement lock Ben Venter was injured with Border team-mate Samora Fihlani stepping into the void.
England: Alex Goode (Saracens); David Strettle (Saracens), Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins), Christian Wade (London Wasps); Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins); Matt Mullan (Worcester Warriors), Joe Gray (Harlequins), Paul Doran Jones (Northampton Saints), Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers), George Robson (capt, Harlequins), James Haskell (Otago Highlanders), Carl Fearns (Bath Rugby), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
Replacements: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Rupert Harden (Gloucester Rugby), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), Jamie Gibson (London Irish), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), George Lowe (Harlequins), Nick Abendanon (Bath Rugby)
SA Barbarians: Jacquin Jansen (Boland); Cornal Hendricks (Boland), Kempie Rautenbach (SWD), Wayne Stevens (EP Kings, capt), Norman Nelson (EP Kings); Elgar Watts (Boland), Boela Abrahams (EP Kings); Corne Fourie (Pumas), Hannes Franklin (EP Kings), Ross Geldenhuys (Boland), Nolan Clark (Boland), David Bulbring (EP Kings), Mpho Mbiyozo (EP Kings), Shaun Raubenheimer (SWD), Jacques Engelbrecht (EP Kings)
Replacements: Clemen Lewis (Boland), Dean Hopp (SWD), Samora Fihlani (Border), Zandre Jordaan (Boland), Ntando Kebe (Border), Ricardo Croy (Boland), Ntabeni Dukisa (Border).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
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