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England ring backline changes for must-win Test

Date

David Legge

Back at No.10 ... Toby Flood.

Back at No.10 ... Toby Flood. Photo: Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG: England have made three personnel changes and two positional for a must-win second Test against South Africa at Ellis Park here on Saturday.

Jonathan Joseph is called up at outside centre, David Strettle on the left wing and Toby Flood at fly-half by coach Stuart Lancaster as he seeks to square a three-match series after a 22-15 loss in Durban last weekend.

Ben Foden moves from the left wing to his more accustomed role of full-back while Samoa-born giant Manu Tuilagi switches from outside centre to inside centre.

Only right wing Chris Ashton, who has gone seven Tests without a try, and scrum-half Ben Youngs among the backs keep the positions they occupied when the first Test kicked off at Kings Park.

A couple of the personnel changes were enforced as full-back Mike Brown flew home this week after injuring his thumb in Durban while inside centre Brad Barritt can only resume playing next week after a first-Test eye injury.

Young fly-half Owen Farrell drops to the replacments bench after several indifferent performances for the Six Nations runners-up while Flood starts for the first time since a 2011 World Cup quarter-finals loss to France.

There are no changes to the pack and on the bench prop Alex Corbisiero comes in for Paul Doran Jones and Farrell and full-back Alex Goode fill the places vacated by Joseph and Flood.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster, who succeeded Martin Johnson this year after the World Cup flop, said he was thrilled to give 21-year-old London Irish centre Joseph a chance.

"I am delighted for JJ. He has trained very well and showed against the Barbarians and in his short time on the field in the first Test that he is ready to make the step up to international rugby.

"To have two 21-year-old centres is exciting and we are looking forward to seeing this combination in action," said the 42-year-old with a record of four victories and two losses at Test level.

"Owen has had a fantastic season and I am sure he will make a significant impact from the bench. However, Toby has waited patiently for his opportunity and the time is right to allow him the demonstrate his experience and skills.

"It is a shame for Mike Brown, who worked hard to get that Test start, but Ben Foden naturally reverts to full-back and we return to the wing partnership of David Strettle and Chris Ashton that served us well in the Six Nations."

South Africa, who were playing for the first time under new coach Heyneke Meyer last weekend, have won eight consecutive Tests against England starting with a 25-14 triumph at Twickenham six years ago.

England (15-1): Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Jonathan Joseph, Manu Tuilagi, David Strettle; Toby Flood, Ben Youngs; Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw (capt), Tom Johnson; Geoff Parling Mouritz Botha; Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler. Replacements: Lee Mears, Alex Corbisiero, Tom Palmer, Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson, Owen Farrell, Alex Goode

AFP

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