Watson drafted in for England bow

Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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England have named Anthony Watson on the right wing for Saturday’s QBE International against South Africa in the only change to the team defeated by New Zealand.

Watson made his debut as a second-half replacement in the 24-21 loss to the All Blacks and has been given his first Test start after Bath team-mate Semesa Rokoduguni was ruled out of selection by a thigh injury.

The 20-year-old’s place on the bench is taken by Harlequins’ Marland Yarde in the only other adjustment to the 23 picked to face the Springboks at Twickenham.

“Anthony has been pushing hard for a while and has been in impressive form for Bath and in training with us,” head coach Stuart Lancaster said.

“It was great that he got on against New Zealand and we feel he’s ready to start. Equally, it’s good to have Marland back in the matchday 23.”

Second row Courtney Lawes and hooker Dylan Hartley have been cleared to take their places in the starting XV after recovering from the concussions they suffered against New Zealand.

The Northampton forwards have been following the graduated return to play protocols this week and have been passed fit.

Tom Wood, a third Saints player, starts after becoming a doubt to face South Africa with an injury that England would only describe as “soreness”.

James Haskell had been retained in the squad as cover for Wood and he now misses out.

Lancaster’s decision to make only the one, injury-enforced, change to his starting XV is born out of a desire to see England redeem themselves after throwing away a winning position against New Zealand.

They led 14-11 at half-time but were picked apart in a one-sided second half as they crashed to a fourth successive defeat.

Among those under pressure to perform against South Africa is Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, who wins his 50th cap at Twickenham on Saturday.

“Congratulations to Danny. It’ll be a special moment for him and I’m sure he’ll rise to the occasion,” Lancaster said.

“I know the players are looking forward to the challenge. South Africa have quality and experience across the park and it will be a big test for us.”

England have a dismal record against the Springboks, who they have failed to beat in 11 matches dating back to 2006 with their best performance a 14-14 draw in Port Elizabeth two years ago.

South Africa remain the only major team Lancaster’s England have yet to defeat and their scalp would be viewed as an important win in the build up to next year’s home World Cup.

Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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