Danny Care and Billy Vunipola dropped from England squad for Samoa
Stuart Lancaster ready to make changes as Red Rose pressure mounts after five consecutive defeats
Danny Care, Kyle Eastmond and Billy Vunipola have been axed from the England squad for Saturday’s meeting with Samoa at Twickenham.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has been forced to consider changes to his starting XV after back-to-back defeats by New Zealand and South Africa in the last fortnight.
We’ve got another full day of training [on Wednesday] and the players are fully focused on another tough challenge against Samoa
Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, Wasps back-row forward James Haskell and Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees have been retained in England’s 23, and make their first appearances in a match day squad this autumn.
Despite their inclusion, the trio could all start on the bench with Gloucester’s Ben Morgan slotting into the back row for Vunipola, Leicester Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs getting the nod over Wigglesworth, and Owen Farrell moved to inside centre in place of Eastmond to accommodate the expected selection of Bath Rugby outside-half George Ford.
Haskell, who has 51 caps to his name, could replace Tom Wood on the blindside with the Northampton Saints flanker part of a misfiring back row in the first two QBE International matches.
“We always wanted to use these four games to look at options,” Lancaster said.
“Billy, Richard and James have been in great form for their clubs and pressing hard in training.
“Kyle has not been able to train due to the graduated return-to-play protocol and will return to Bath to continue that process, and hopefully he should be available for his club this weekend along with the other released players.”
A dispute over financial mismanagement of the game in the Pacific threatened to derail the match with the Samoan players considering boycotting, but their protest against the Samoan Rugby Union will be watered down to a black armband protest, and Lancaster must now deliver a victory to quell the rising heckles from supporters after last weekend’s fifth consecutive defeat.
“We’ve got another full day of training [on Wednesday] and the players are fully focused on another tough challenge against Samoa,” Lancaster said.
The team to play Samoa will be announced on Wednesday afternoon.
England squad to face Samoa:
Forwards (13): Dave Attwood (Bath), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), James Haskell (Wasps), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Rob Webber (Bath), David Wilson (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton).
Backs (10): Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Jonny May (Gloucester), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Anthony Watson (Bath), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester).