Stuart Lancaster to hand Leicester’s Tom Youngs England debut
England head coach Stuart Lancaster confirms Leicester's Tom Youngs will make his debut against Fiji on Saturday
Tom Youngs will make his England debut against Fiji on Saturday while Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola also look set to win their first caps at Twickenham after Stuart Lancaster named his side on Thursday.
Youngs, 25, completes a remarkable transition from centre to the front row and having played in two of England’s midweek matches on the summer tour to South Africa and, in the enforced absences of Dylan Hartley, Rob Webber and Joe Gray, gets the nod.
The starting XV shows five changes from the side that drew the third and final Test of the summer tour to South Africa with Chris Robshaw returning as captain, Charlie Sharples coming in for the suspended Chris Ashton and joining Brad Barritt and Ugo Monye in the back line.
Second row Launchbury and prop Vunipola have both been named on the bench and Lancaster said: “This QBE International series will be a real marker of where we are as a squad.
“We are playing four back to back matches in four weeks against the top teams in the world and we are confident we can rise to the challenge. The foundations are in place, now it’s time for us to execute and deliver.
“Fiji is a good first Test for us and we can’t wait to play back at Twickenham. The atmosphere against Ireland back in March was superb and you can’t underestimate what it means to the players to have 82,000 people and the nation behind them.
“Congratulations to Tom Youngs, who has made a great transition from centre to hooker in a short period and deserves his chance, as do Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola, who we are pleased to be able to include in the squad.”
England team to face Fiji: Alex Goode (Saracens); Charlie Sharples (Gloucester), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Ugo Monye (Harlequins); Toby Flood (Leicester), Danny Care (Harlequins); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Tom Youngs (Leicester), Dan Cole (Leicester), Tom Palmer (Wasps), Geoff Parling (Leicester), Tom Johnson (Exeter), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), Thomas Waldrom (Leicester).
Replacements: David Paice (London Irish), David Wilson (Bath), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Tom Wood (Northampton), Ben Youngs (Leicester), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins)
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