Farrell moves into No.10
February 23, 2012
Owen Farrell replaces Charlie Hodgson at fly-half © Getty Images
Owen Farrell will start at fly-half for England in Saturday's Six Nations showdown with Wales after Charlie Hodgson failed to recover from a finger injury.
Farrell's switch from inside centre has opened the way for Manu Tuilagi to return to the England midfield alongside Brad Barritt in one of four changes to the side that beat Italy 19-15 two weekends ago. Farrell has been preferred at No.10 to Toby Flood, who returns to the England squad on the bench alongside fit-again Northampton lock Courtney Lawes.
Elsewhere, Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson, Scarlets No.8 Ben Morgan and Leicester lock Geoff Parling will all start their first Tests at the home of English rugby after coming off the bench in the previous victories over Scotland and Italy.
Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs and Northampton number eight Phil Dowson drop to the bench, but there is no place for Stade Francais lock Tom Palmer, who started England's previous two wins. Tuilagi's promotion into the starting line-up following Hodgson's injury has led to Harlequins fullback Mike Brown being recalled from club duty to start on the bench.
Wales flanker Sam Warburton has recovered from injury and will lead his side against England. The Cardiff Blues flanker missed Wales' 27-13 victory over Scotland nine days ago due to a thigh problem that forced him off at half-time against Ireland in Dublin a week earlier. But Warburton is now back to lead a team showing three changes from the one that saw off Scotland.
Wales' World Cup skipper replaces Aaron Shingler in the back row, while fit-again lock Alun-Wyn Jones is preferred to Ryan Jones and hooker Ken Owens gains his first Wales start. Owens, who made his Test debut during last autumn's World Cup campaign, is promoted off the bench as calf muscle strains sideline both Huw Bennett and Matthew Rees.
Sale Sharks forward Andy Powell drops off the bench and there is no place in the matchday 22 either for Shingler or lock Lou Reed while James Hook was a late withdrawal through illness. He was replaced by Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones.
England: Ben Foden (Northampton Saints); Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Brad Barritt (Saracens), David Strettle (Saracens); Owen Farrell (Saracens), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints); Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), Ben Morgan (Scarlets)
Replacements: Rob Webber (London Wasps), Matt Stevens (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Wales: L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), K Owens (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), I Evans (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), P James (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), S Jones (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets)
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