South Africa v England: Uncapped Johnson & Marler handed debuts
England head coach Stuart Lancaster hands Tom Johnson and Joe Marler their England debuts against South Africa on Saturday
Stuart Lancaster will give Tom Johnson and Joe Marler their England debuts against South Africa in Durban on Saturday.
The Exeter Chiefs flanker and Harlequins prop will win their first caps at Mr Price Kings Park in a team showing four personnel and one positional change from the starting line-up against Ireland in the final Six Nations outing.
Marler replaces Alex Corbisiero, Johnson comes in for Tom Croft, while there are also changes at scrum half, where Ben Youngs starts in place of Lee Dickson and in the back three, where Ben Foden moves to the left wing for David Strettle and Mike Brown starts at full back.
“Tom and Joe have had great seasons at their clubs and have worked really hard to get this chance, both are in great form and have really impressed in training,” said Lancaster.
“Equally, Mike Brown has been outstanding for Harlequins. By moving Ben to the wing we retain his strike power and aerial skills and can utilise not only Mike’s attacking and defensive assets we can also call on his left-footed kicking game.
“Selection is competitive in lots of positions, particularly at scrum half. We are really pleased with Ben’s form and he knows our systems well. Lee, if he gets his chance from the bench I am sure will make an impact and Danny will get his opportunity to press his case, as will the others, in the first midweek game on Wednesday.
“It’s also great to see another young player get Test match experience in Jonathan Joseph and he is delighted to get this opportunity in the match 22 – we are confident he is ready for the step up to this level.
“We have made no secret of how tough this series will be but it is an opportunity we are looking forward to and I am confident that we can perform.”
England team to face South Africa
Mike Brown, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Ben Foden, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Mouritz Botha, Geoff Parling, Tom Johnson, Chris Robshaw (captain), Ben Morgan.