England rejig backline for Boks Test
England have made three personnel changes and two positional for their must-win second Test clash against South Africa at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Jonathan Joseph was called up at outside centre, David Strettle on the left wing and Toby Flood at five-eighth 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 fullback while Samoa-born giant Manu Tuilagi switches from outside centre to inside centre.
Only right winger Chris Ashton, who has gone seven Tests without a try, and halfback 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 forced as fullback 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 five-eighth Owen Farrell drops to the replacements bench after several indifferent performances for the Six Nations runners-up while Flood starts for the first time since their 2011 World Cup quarter-final loss to France.
There are no changes to the pack and on the bench prop Alex Corbisiero comes in for Paul Doran Jones while Farrell and fullback Alex Goode fill the places vacated by Joseph and Flood.
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,” said the 42-year-old with a record of four victories and two losses at Test level.
“To have two 21-year-old centres is exciting and we are looking forward to seeing this combination in action.
“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.
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.
© AFP 2013
England: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