Six Nations 2014: Ben Morgan comes into England side for Wales clash
Six Nations 2014: Stuart Lancaster makes one change for England's mouth-watering clash against Wales at Twickenham
Ben Morgan is the only change for England’s crunch encounter with Wales at Twickenham as Stuart Lancaster keeps faith with his starting XV.
The Gloucester number 8—who spent three seasons with the Scarlets and qualified to play for Wales on residency—is an enforced change for the injured Billy Vunipola, with Exeter Chiefs’ versatile back row Tom Johnson taking Morgan’s place on the bench.
After coming through the last encounter against Ireland despite a lack of game time, Bath’s Dave Wilson continues in the front row at tight-head alongside hooker Dylan Hartley and Joe Marler.
He has been pushing hard for the No 8 shirt and now gets his opportunity
Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes are ever-present in the second row and Tom Wood and captain Chris Robshaw in the back row with Morgan.
The threatening half-back duo of Danny Care and Owen Farrell will again look to pull the strings for England after impressing so far this championship.
The unchanged backline continues with Jack Nowell and Jonny May on the wings, Mike Brown at full-back and Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees maintaining their midfield partnership.
Uncapped Bath outside-half George Ford keeps his spot on the bench as back-up to Farrell.
“Ben has made an impact off the bench in the previous games,” Lancaster said. “He has been pushing hard for the No 8 shirt and now gets his opportunity so we are looking forward to seeing him from the start.
“Tom has been outstanding for Exeter Chiefs and gives us options off the bench as he has played in all three backrow positions for his club.
England go into the match buoyant after a hard-fought 13-10 win over Ireland last time out at Twickenham, with the championship title still possible if they win their final two matches, but have lost their last three matches to Wales and never scored a try against them during Lancaster’s reign.
14 of Lancaster’s match-day 23 played in England’s humiliating 30-3 defeat by Wales in the championship decider almost a year ago, with 11 of them in the starting XV this year and a further three on the bench.
Despite the constant reminders of their performance in what was supposed to be the match to win the Grand Slam, but turned out to be the worst of nightmares, England have a renewed confidence this year after two wins in their opening three matches this year and have much-needed home advantage.
“We can’t wait to play at home again,” Lancaster added. “The players have said that the atmosphere at Twickenham for the Ireland game was the best they had experienced and I am sure it will be the same again on Sunday.
“It definitely gives us an extra lift and that’s what we want against another experienced, high-quality side, who are looking to defend their title.”
England: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Luther Burrell (Northampton), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Jonny May (Gloucester); Owen Farrell (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Dave Wilson (Bath Rugby), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Tom Wood (Northampton), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Ben Morgan (Gloucester).
Replacements: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), David Attwood (Bath), Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs); Lee Dickson (Northampton), George Ford (Bath), Alex Goode (Saracens).
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton); Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton (Cardiff, captain), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys); Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Liam Williams (Cardiff).