ENGLAND coach Stuart Lancaster insists he cannot wait for their second Test against South Africa, even though defeat would end their hopes of a series victory.
The Springboks secured a 22-17 victory in Durban on Saturday but Lancaster has resisted the urge to overhaul his young, experimental side and has made only three changes for tomorrow’s Test in Johannesburg. Centre Jonathan Joseph has been promoted for his first start while fly-half Toby Flood and winger David Strettle are recalled, and Lancaster, though without injured pair Brad Barritt and Mike Brown, is excited about their prospects.
“I am delighted for JJ,” said Lancaster of Joseph. “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 to international rugby. To have two 21-year-old centres is exciting and we are looking forward to seeing this combination in action.”
Saracens winger Strettle replaces Brown, with Ben Foden returning to full-back, while London Irish’s Joseph will start at 13 as Manu Tuilagi switches to 12 to replace Barritt. Consequently only Sarries fly-half Owen Farrell, a regular until now under Lancaster, has been dropped, but the coach is adamant he will still contribute as a replacement.
“Owen has had a fantastic season and I am sure he will make a significant impact from the bench,” Lancaster added. “However, Toby has waited patiently for his opportunity and the time is right to allow him the chance to demonstrate his experience and skills in what will be a very tough challenge.
“It’s 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.”
Flanker James Haskell has again also been overlooked, despite playing in England’s midweek 54-26 win over Southern Barbarians. Lancaster felt Haskell could not be considered last week because of a lack of time to train with with the rest of the squad.
ENGLAND: B Foden; C Ashton, J Joseph, M Tuilagi, D Strettle; T Flood, B Youngs; J Marler, D Hartley, D Cole, M Botha, G Parling, T Johnson, C Robshaw (capt), B Morgan
Replacements: L Mears, A Corbisiero, T Palmer, P Dowson, L Dickson, O Farrell, A Goode.
SOUTH AFRICA: P Lambie; J P Pietersen, J de Villiers (capt), F Steyn, B Habana; M Steyn, D Hougaard; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, E Etzebeth, J Kruger, M Coetzee, W Alberts, P Spies
Replacements : A Strauss, W Kruger, F van der Merwe, K Daniel, R Pienaar, B Basson, W Olivier.