New-look England to tackle Barbarians
May 25, 2012
Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley returns to the England front row having served an eight-week ban for biting © Getty Images
England boss Stuart Lancaster has named a strong line-up to tackle the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.
The uncapped trio of winger Christian Wade and flankers Carl Fearns and Tom Johnson have been given a chance press their Test claims ahead of the forthcoming series against South Africa but it is a relatively experienced side for what is a non-cap game.
Lancaster, stripped of the 18 players from Harlequins and Leicester who will contest the Aviva Premiership final on Saturday, has named 11 players who featured in this year's Six Nations including fullback Ben Foden, winger Chris Ashton, centre Brad Barritt, scrum-half Lee Dickson and Owen Farrell who switches to inside centre with Charlie Hodgson handed the No.10 shirt. Wade, the second highest try scorer in the Aviva Premiership this season with nine tries, gets his chance on the left wing having edged out David Strettle.
Up front, Dylan Hartley starts at hooker in his first game back after serving an eight-week ban for biting Stephen Ferris in England's Six Nations victory over Ireland in March. Hartley will be propped by Matt Stevens, who starts on the loosehead side, and Paul Doran-Jones while Mouritz Botha and Tom Palmer pack down in the second row. Fearns and Johnson start in the back row either side of Phil Dowson who was confirmed as captain earlier this week.
"We are treating this as a very important game for setting the foundations for the tour," said Lancaster. "The players have been excellent this week and have been fully focussed as we are looking to build on the momentum of the Six Nations. This is a really important milestone in our preparation for South Africa.
"With the Leicester and Harlequins players unavailable it's a great opportunity for those other players involved in the Six Nations to lead the way. 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.
"The support we had at Twickenham against Wales and Ireland was fantastic and we can't wait to get back there. The Barbarians have a really strong team packed with talent and experience and having been involved in this fixture before I know it will be a great occasion."
England team to face Barbarians:
B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), B Barritt (Saracens), O Farrell (Saracens), C Wade (London Wasps); C Hodgson (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton Saints); M Stevens (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), P Doran Jones (Northampton Saints), M Botha (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), C Fearns (Bath Rugby), P Dowson (Northampton Saints, capt).
Replacements: L Mears (Bath Rugby), M Mullan (Worcester Warriors), J Launchbury (London Wasps), J Gibson (London Irish), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), A Goode (Saracens).
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