Trio return for England
September 29, 2011
Johnson: 'We have to win, they have to win'
England have made three changes for their Rugby World Cup showdown with Scotland at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
Delon Armitage will start on the left wing for in the place of Mark Cueto in the major change to the side that swept Romania aside 67-3 last weekend which was sparked by a quick-fire hat-trick from Cueto on his comeback from injury. Matt Stevens starts at loose-head prop following an ankle injury and Courtney Lawes returns to the second row, having served a two-match ban.
An England victory will seal their passage to the World Cup quarter-finals as group winners - but defeat without any bonus points could bring their campaign to a crashing halt. Alex Corbisiero and Tom Palmer drop to the bench but there is no place in the 22 for Cueto, with the more versatile Matt Banahan preferred among the replacements.
No.8 Nick Easter has replaced Tom Wood among the replacements after recovering from the back injury that kept him sidelined from the victories over Georgia and Romania. Chris Ashton, whose five tries so far make him the tournament's leading try-scorer, Ben Foden, Manu Tuilagi, Dan Cole and James Haskell will all have started every England pool game.
Captain Lewis Moody will win his 70th cap on Saturday and Jonny Wilkinson his 90th.
Commenting on the squad Johnson said he had been impressed with Armitage's form and dedication - and he gets his chance against Scotland with Cueto deemed to still not be 100% match fit after a back injury.
"Delon has played very well, we are very comfortable with him playing there and Mark has had limited game time since he has been here," said Johnson. " I said all the way through that if Delon is in good form he is a Test match player. He wasn't available to us in the Six Nations but he has come back from that and has worked very hard all the way through.
"I said if he is playing well and doing everything right he will get a shot and put pressure on the guys in the top three. The injury with Mark has been a factor with that and he is probably one game short of being right back where he could be."
As for the return of Lawes after suspension, he said. "We thought Courtney was playing very well. He hasn't played for two weeks but we are very comfortable he will come and perform for us.
There are a number of permutations that could unfold over the weekend, but Johnson refuses to rely on picking up losing bonus points or hoping Georgia can hold Argentina.
"It's knockout rugby. Let's not worry about points difference. We have to win, they have to win," said Johnson.
England: B Foden, C Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, M Tindall, D Armitage, J Wilkinson, B Youngs, M Stevens, S Thompson, D Cole, L Deacon, C Lawes, T Croft, L Moody (c), J Haskell
Replacements: D Hartley, A Corbisiero, T Palmer, N Easter, R Wigglesworth, T Flood, M Banahan
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