New-look England eye unchanged Boks
November 22, 2012
Joe Launchbury starts for England at lock on Saturday © Getty Images
England will renew their search for a major southern hemisphere scalp when they welcome South Africa to Twickenham on Saturday.
Much was expected of Stuart Lancaster's men when they came up against an injury-ravaged Wallabies XV last weekend but Robbie Deans' charges rallied and claimed a 20-14 victory that leaves England without a win against either New Zealand, Australia or South Africa since 2010.
The England side came in for some criticism post-match with the decision to run three penalties rather than opting to kick for the posts featuring prominently but Lancaster refused to point the finger of blame. But it does not get any easier for England.
South Africa have won both of the games on their tour of the northern hemisphere. They have already recorded wins over Ireland and Scotland, both immensely physical matches which at times turned into an arm wrestle, and will be looking to make it three from three on Saturday. There will also be some familiar faces in the Boks' side with Bath's Francois Louw and Saracens' Schalk Brits both in their matchday squad.
And hanging over the autumn internationals is the draw for the 2015 World Cup which is scheduled for December 3. England are looking to force their way back into the top four and secure a top seed for the draw while South Africa are already nicely positioned in that elite group.
England - Player to Watch: Ben Youngs is back at scrum-half at the expense of Danny Care and will look to put down a marker to the England backroom staff. He came in for some criticism following his decision to tap and go when England were awarded a very kickable penalty against the Wallabies and will hope to make amends.
England - Team News: England have made six changes ahead of the match with Youngs replacing Care at scrum-half. Wasps' Joe Launchbury is handed his first Test start in the second row with club-mate Tom Palmer making way. London Irish's Alex Corbisiero also returns to the starting line-up at loose-head prop in the place of Quins' Joe Marler while Northampton's Tom Wood is another to benefit from the England re-shuffle with a promotion to the blindside flanker berth at the expense of Exeter's Tom Johnson. The other change up front sees Gloucester's Ben Morgan named at No.8 instead of Leicester's Thomas Waldrom. And in the backs, Mike Brown starts on the wing instead of Charlie Sharples while Jonathan Joseph, James Haskell and Mouritz Botha come on to the bench.
South Africa - Player to Watch: Willem Alberts had a stormer against Scotland last weekend and will look to continue in the same vein on Saturday. He has enjoyed playing against England in the past with two of his four tries coming against the red rose side.
South Africa - Team News: Heyneke Meyer has named an unchanged XV from the one that beat Scotland but makes two changes to the bench. Pat Cilliers and Elton Jantjies are both included, at the expense of CJ Van der Linde and Morne Steyn.
Eben Etzebeth retains his place in the second-row for the Boks © Getty Images
Key Battle: Chris Robshaw will be hoping to bounce back after he was dominated by Australia's Michael Hooper last weekend but it will not get any easier for the England skipper. He will come up against Bath's Francois Louw who was, like Hooper, named Man of the Match last weekend - it should be a titanic battle.
Trivia: Jean de Villiers will captain the side from the centres and he will become the fifth most-capped Springbok of all time and the most-capped member of the 2012 squad in what will be his 84th Test.
Stats: Jean de Villiers, Francois Hougaard and Jannie du Plessis will end the season having started in all 12 Tests in 2012 for the Boks.
"There were some tight calls, which is what you want as coaches, but the players we have brought in to start have been training well, will bring a real motivation to make the most of their opportunity and will suit the challenge we face against a tough and physical South African team."
"The fact that Jean has played in every Test this season, and finished all of them, is testimony to his amazing resilience and work ethic. Jean has been the glue that has kept our team together and for that I salute him."
Prediction: England need a bit of magic from somewhere and if they get that spark, then they could come away with the win but we are going for a Boks victory by a couple of points.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September