Fresh faced England set for Baa-Baas
May 25, 2012
Tom Johnson on the charge for England against the Barbarians last year © Getty Images
England tee up their three-Test summer tour to South Africa with their annual match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.
With the Aviva Premiership final being contested the day before, there are 18 international players playing some part in that match so it will be a different looking England taking to the field against the BaaBaas. But with Stuart Lancaster presiding over his first match in charge of the England team as full-time coach, there will be a host of players trying to impress their new boss.
For the Barbarians, they will look to continue in their traditional vein of free-flowing attacking rugby. Last year's meeting between the two sides was an epic with England falling to the Baa-Baas 38-32. With 10 tries on show, supporters of both sides will be hoping for more of the same.
England - Player to Watch: Christian Wade is making his much anticipated bow for England on the wing and although it's an uncapped match, it is certain to be the first of many run outs at Twickenham for the young Wasps flyer.
England - Team News: Ben Foden starts at fullback with Chris Ashton and Christian Wade on the wings. Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell form the centres with Charlie Hodgson and Lee Dickson at half-back. Matt Stevens starts at loose-head with Dylan Hartley and Paul Doran Jones alongside him. Mouritz Botha and Tom Palmer start in the second-row with Tom Johnson, Carl Fearns and skipper Phil Dowson completing the line-up.
Barbarians - Player to Watch: All eyes will be on Mike Tindall who will play perhaps his last match at Twickenham. Tindall has had a difficult season with the post-2011 World Cup fallout but back in an environment he is used to, Tindall may just surprise a few people with a solid performance against England.
Barbarians - Team News: Mils Muliaina starts at fullback for the Baa-Baas with Paul Sackey and Iain Balshaw on the wings. Tindall starts in the centres alongside Casey Laulala. World Cup-winner Stephen Donald starts at fly-half with Rory Lawson providing guidance at scrum-half. Neemia Tialata starts in the front-row with John Smit captaining the side alongside him and John Afoa at tight-head. Mark Chisholm and Anton van Zyl are in the engine room with Ernst Joubert, Johnnie Beattie and Akapusi Qera in the back-row.
Graham Rowntree on England's young squad
Key Battle: Ben Foden's battle against Mils Muliaina could be an epic. While Foden has Brown chasing him for the fullback spot ahead of the South Africa tour, Muliaina is a veteran of the position with 100 caps for the All Blacks. It should be fascinating to see the master against the near apprentice.
Trivia: This is the Barbarians' 12th meeting with England - the Barbarians have taken six of the clashes thus far with England winning the other five.
Stats: There are just five survivors from the side that played the Barbarians last year in England's matchday squad - Carl Fearns, Paul Doran Jones, Jamie Gibson, Charlie Hodgson and Tom Johnson.
"Some of the younger players have a chance to put a marker down and get their first taste of international rugby such as Christian Wade on the wing, Joe Launchbury, Alex Goode and Jonathan Joseph on the bench. Being able to name a back line very similar to the Six Nations and the strength we have in the forwards with the likes of Tom Johnson and Carl Fearns, who played in this game last year, is a real positive." - England's Stuart Lancaster
"We have several natural leaders in the squad but with John's track record of captaincy at the highest levels of the game he was the obvious choice to lead us on this tour." - Barbarians coach John Kirwan on John Smit
Prediction: A youthful England will make up for last year's reverse and beat the Barbarians to nicely tee up their tour to South Africa.
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