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England v Argentina
Lancaster anticipates ferocious front-row battle
ESPN Staff
November 7, 2013
England's front-row for Saturday © Getty Images
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England's Stuart Lancaster has backed David Wilson to shine on Saturday against Argentina after he was preferred at tight-head to Dan Cole.

Cole has been named among the replacements in a surprise selection choice from Lancaster. In his place, Bath tight-head Wilson starts and with Tom Youngs' wife giving birth to a baby girl on Thursday, Dylan Hartley gets the nod at hooker. Joe Marler fills in for the injured Mako Vunipola with Alex Corbisiero offering a front-row option from the bench.

And Lancaster is adamant he has no concerns over his choice to start Wilson at No.3. "Davey Wilson was outstanding in Argentina on the summer tour," Lancaster said. "Our scrum did well over there and I think the form he showed has continued for Bath this season.

"He's been excellent in the new scrum laws as a tight-head and his loose play has improved as well. Everything we've asked of him, he's done. Now is the right time to give him a start.

Tom May on England v Argentina

  • "Twelvetrees is in credit, he played well last year and went on the Lions tour, one bad game does not mean he is bad player. Discarding him now may do more harm than good and that is why Lancaster has shown faith in him."
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"We have Dan Cole on the bench, he has not played that role often for England or Leicester but he will play a big role for us in the second-half I'm sure. We know how tough Argentina are going to be and we know how difficult the scrummaging contest will be from minute one to minute 80 and it's great to have those guys on the bench."

Argentina are traditionally a ferocious scrummaging outfit and Lancaster witnessed their power firsthand when he took England to face the Pumas in the summer. And despite Argentina naming a monster pack for Saturday's game, Lancaster is optimistic his front-row will be able to match them.

"When you look at the Rugby Championship at the scrums and the length of the scrums, eight-and-a-half seconds, it is a big part of their game," Lancaster added. "It is a big, big Argentinean pack but we've got a very good scrum ourselves, a good bench and a backline that stays the same from last week. It'll be a great challenge up front, I have no doubt."

While the front-row rejig has dominated the headlines, there is a further change in the backs with Ben Foden starting on the flank in place of the injured Marland Yarde. Christian Wade was rumoured to be in line for a Test place and Lancaster confirmed there was a "good chance he was going to start". But Wade picked up a hamstring injury in training and the England staff are hopeful he will be back in training on Sunday or Monday.

Despite Wade and Yarde failing their respective fitness tests, the suggestion they were going to be partnered on the flank placed Chris Ashton's place in jeopardy. As it worked out, Ashton will start on Saturday though Lancaster feels the winger has a "point to prove".

Lancaster added: "There one or two areas in the game (against Australia) Chris was disappointed with and we put it on him a bit this week. He trained well on Tuesday and comes back in the side and I'm sure he'll feel he has a point to prove."

In further injury news, Ben Youngs will face a fitness test on Friday morning with Danny Care on standby.

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