England v South Africa
Haskell starts against Boks
November 18, 2008
James Haskell called up to face South Africa © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has recalled blindside flanker James Haskell for the showdown with world champions South Africa.
Haskell's inclusion in place of Tom Croft is the only change on Saturday to England's starting XV from last weekend's 28-14 defeat to Australia.
Croft is included among the replacements and is joined on the bench by uncapped Leicester No.8 Jordan Crane, who has replaced Michael Lipman in the squad. Otherwise, Johnson has kept faith with the tight five that struggled to impose themselves against the Wallabies and named the same back division for a third week running.
Haskell was one of the few England players to return from the summer tour of New Zealand with his reputation enhanced after two impressive performances against the All Blacks.
He lost his place to Croft, after making a slow start to the season in a struggling Wasps side. But Haskell made an immediate impression when he came off the bench last weekend and he will offer a more physical presence against the dynamic Springbok back row.
Johnson admitted he was tempted to make more changes but is trying to build a new team and decided to give his inexperienced players the chance to make amends for last week.
England conceded "careless" penalties and failed to capitalise on the opportunities they did create against the Wallabies.
"It's great we can choose between two very young and exciting players in James and Tom," said Johnson. "We want to get some consistency in the team. They are aware of the mistakes we made - but they have the opportunity to correct them.
"The defeat rankles. We are still growing into the way we are playing. It only takes a momentary lapse, a few guys going off script in the heat of battle, for things to break down in that area.
"We gave away eight kickable penalties. We need to cut out mistakes, cut out penalties and put ourselves in a position in the last 20 minutes to win the game. The great thing from our point of view is that there are lots of opportunities out there - we just have to see them and exploit them."
England failed to dominate in the scrum as they had done against the Wallabies in the World Cup quarter-final. But Johnson said: "We will see a different game this week and a better scrummaging contest."
He also warned that South Africa will be well-motivated for the match. "I think they will definitely be up for it. They won't have any problems with that. Every team has their own traits, and theirs is that they are athletic. They have a fantastic set of athletes. They play with huge intensity, passion and physicality.
"They will want to finish the season off on a high and beat us at Twickenham. It's a big thing for opposition teams to come here and win, as you saw with the Australians' reaction when they won on here on Saturday."
Johnson vowed to correct any mistakes his team made against Australia, in time for this weekend's clash.
"They were little things that added up last week," he said. "Things like that that can be fixed very quickly. It's about guys knowing their roles, getting details right and getting the points on the board."
The England manager also hit back at criticism captain Steve Borthwick received after last weekend's defeat.
"It's easy to point finger at Steve," Johnson said. "He's doing a fantastic job, and others are making mistakes too. If he does his job you don't ask questions. Steve's a fantastic leader and captain, but he can't control 14 guys' actions on the field."
England team v South Africa, Twickenham, Saturday 22 November:
England: Delon Armitage (London Irish); Paul Sackey (London Wasps), Jamie Noon (Newcastle Falcons), Riki Flutey (London Wasps), Ugo Monye (Harlequins); Danny Cipriani (London Wasps), Danny Care (Harlequins); Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks), Lee Mears (Bath Rugby), Phil Vickery (London Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Saracens, capt), Tom Palmer (London Wasps), James Haskell (London Wasps), Tom Rees (London Wasps), Nick Easter (Harlequins)
Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Matt Stevens (Bath Rugby), Simon Shaw (London Wasps), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers), Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers), Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
© PA Sport
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