Tindall and Worsley return for England
February 10, 2009
Joe Worsley will start on the openside flank for England at the Millennium Stadium © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has recalled Wasps flanker Joe Worsley into the England side to face Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Worsley is one of two changes to the side that made a winning, if unconvincing, start to the Six Nations against Italy on Saturday, with Gloucester centre Mike Tindall also returning in place of Newcastle's Jamie Noon.
Worsley starts on the openside flank in place of London Irish's Steffon Armitage, who drops out of the 22 altogether after making his debut against Italy. Better known as a blindside flanker, Worsley has been called in to action due to lingering injury doubts over Bath's Michael Lipman and long-term injuries to Leicester's Lewis Moody and Worsley's Wasps team-mate Tom Rees. While Armitage has been in fine form in the Premiership this season, he went missing for much of his debut and has been dropped as England prepare for the Millennium Stadium's pressure-cooker atmosphere.
Worsley has unhappy memories of the Millennium Stadium, lasting just 39 seconds of his lat appearance at the ground, leaving the field after being knocked out in a freak collision.
"The last time I played for England in Cardiff I remember the anthem and the kick-off ... then I remember waking up in the stand," he said. "I tried to carry on but I only know that from watching the video. I was like Bambi on ice. I have had my injury problems but I have made big strides during this season - and I'm getting into good form again."
Worsley will go toe-to-toe at the Millennium Stadium with Wales' Martyn Williams, one of the leading contenders for the British and Irish Lions No.7 shirt.
"It will be difficult. He's a fantastic player and it is a big 'ask'. We're all aware we will have to play a hell of a lot better to have a chance this weekend," he said. "It gives you some impetus when you hear what other people think.
"But desire to win is why people play at this level, and I have been like that - regardless of whether we were favourites or going down to Cardiff as we are now. I go out and play the same."
Johnson cited Worsley's tackling and ball-carrying ability as the reasons for his selection, one that will undoubtedly raide eyebrows considering his original exclusion from the Six Nations squad, only coming in as injury-cover.
"Joe has been playing very well. He is a very experienced player, a big tackler and a big carrier," said Johnson. "His form has been great all year, and we thought it was the right game for him to come and play. It was a tough call. Steffon played there last week. He has taken his first step in international rugby and he has a bright future. But we think Joe is the right guy for what we want to do."
Again there is no place in the 22 for Danny Cipriani, with Andy Goode retaining the fly-half jersey and Toby Flood slotting in on the bench in place of London Irish's Shane Geraghty.
London Irish scrum-half Paul Hodgson, a late call-up from the Saxons squad after Danny Care failed to return to fitness, replaces Northampton's Ben Foden on the bench after Foden also won his debut cap at Twickenham on Saturday.
Johnson was disappointed that his side's opening game fell well below the pace and intensity of the offerings served up by Ireland and France at Croke Park and Wales in Scotland.
"The tempo of those games was pretty high. We were frustrated we got bogged down a bit. But there are reasons for that, the mistakes we made and the opposition we are up against. We won the last game, and I would like to keep our fortunes heading in the same direction. We need to build confidence and momentum.
"We know as a squad we can play better than we did last week. It is about improving. I am looking forward to going away from home, and the pressure and intensity will be a big test for our team. The Welsh enjoy having a successful rugby team, and they are playing some attractive rugby - so it will be double difficult.
"We don't have that much expectation - and we need to go there and fight. We can also play - but we need to battle and quieten the crowd down."
England: Delon Armitage (London Irish), Paul Sackey (London Wasps), Mike Tindall, (Gloucester), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), Andy Goode (Brive), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers), Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Lee Mears (Bath), Phil Vickery (London Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Saracens, capt), Nick Kennedy (London Irish), James Haskell (London Wasps), Joe Worsley (London Wasps), Nick Easter (Harlequins)
Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Julian White (Leicester Tigers), Tom Croft, (Leicester Tigers), Luke Narraway (Gloucester), Paul Hodgson (London Irish), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers), Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks)
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