The loss of two-try hero Charlie Hodgson to injury has forced English coach Stuart Lancaster to reshuffle his backline; in the process, he may just have stumbled upon a combination able to add a level of attacking threat to the defensive prowess already shown.
While few would argue that the new-look England have been particularly impressive in their two previous outings in this year’s Six Nations, they have nonetheless recorded narrow wins against both Sctoland and Italy away from home. Saturday’s Twickenham showdown against the imperious Welsh will be the first true test of their umpteenth “revival” and while few pundits in the UK press are giving the men in white a hope in hell of emerging victorious, Lancaster will secretly be hoping that his rejigged combination might do the trick.
The Saracens duo of Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt, both rare stand-outs in an otherwise pedestrian back division, have each been moved one position closer to the action, with Farrell assuming Hodgson’s vacant flyhalf role and Barritt moving from outside centre into his more usual number 12 jersey. Big Samoan Manu Tuilagi comes in at outside centre, while there’s a change at scrumhalf too, where Lee Dickson takes over from the out-of-sorts Ben Youngs.
Up-front, changes at lock and eighthman see Geoff Parling earn his first start and the impressive Ben Morgan given the opportunity to build on a good display as a replacement in Rome two weeks back.
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Substitutes: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Courtney Lawes, 19 Phil Dowson, 20 Ben Youngs, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Mike Brown.Tweet