Johnson names new-look midfield
August 25, 2011
Wilkinson will strike up a new midfield partnership with Tindall and Tuilagi © Getty Images
Manu Tuilagi starts at outside centre as one of six changes for England in their final World Cup warm-up match against Ireland in Dublin.
The Leicester centre joins Jonny Wilkinson and Mike Tindall in a new-look midfield as Martin Johnson wields the axe following England's defeat to Wales in Cardiff two weeks ago. Tuilagi, who scored on his England debut at Twickenham in the first of two matches against Wales, takes his place in the team ahead of Shontayne Hape with Tindall moving to inside centre and continuing as captain.
Wilkinson's inclusion comes at the expense of Leicester No.10 Toby Flood, who loses his fly-half spot just a fortnight before England's opening World Cup encounter, against Argentina on September 10. The Toulon fly-half will partner Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth at half-backs with Joe Simpson set to make his debut from the bench and Ben Youngs still recovering from injury.
Chris Ashton has overcome a foot injury to take his place in the back three while James Haskell is fit to start in the back-row, taking the No.7 shirt in the continued absence of Lewis Moody. Tom Croft returns at blindside flanker with Tom Wood dropping to the bench. Louis Deacon and Courtney Lawes pair up in the second-row while Andrew Sheridan makes his first appearance of the warm-up games in the front row. In a late change to the announced squad, Tom Palmer was called onto the bench to replace Tom Wood who was withdrawn due to a calf strain while No.8 Nick Easter is due to undergo a fitness test on a similar injury on the day of the game with Hendre Fourie poised to step in if required.
Ireland are without Brian O'Driscoll and Sean O'Brien for the clash on Saturday. O'Driscoll suffered a 'stinger' to his shoulder in the 26-22 defeat by France in Dublin last weekend and is replaced by Keith Earls as a precaution. O'Brien is similarly held back as a precaution and in his absence David Wallace returns. He is joined in the back-row by Stephen Ferris who makes his first start for Ireland for eight months after being dogged with a persistent knee injury.
Hooker Jerry Flannery and winger Tommy Bowe both makes his first starts of the summer following respective calf and foot injuries. Geordan Murphy starts at fullback after Rob Kearney, who was sidelined last weekend with a groin strain, was ruled out once again with Ronan O'Gara and Eoin Reddan named at half-back.
England: Ben Foden: Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Mike Tindall (captain), Mark Cueto; Jonny Wilkinson, Richard Wigglesworth; Andrew Sheridan, Steve Thompson, Dan Cole, Louis Deacon, Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft, James Haskell, Nick Easter.
Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Matt Stevens, Simon Shaw, Tom Palmer, Joe Simpson, Toby Flood, Delon Armitage.
Ireland: Geordan Murphy; Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Ronan O'Gara, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Jerry Flannery, Mike Ross; Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell (captain); Stephen Ferris, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip
Replacements: Rory Best, Tom Court, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Leamy, Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton, Fergus McFadden
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: R Poite, T Hayes
Television Match Official: G De Santis
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.