George Ford to make first England Test start against Samoa
England head coach Stuart Lancaster makes five changes as the Red Rose look to get back to winning ways
Bath Rugby outside-half George Ford will make his first England Test start against Samoa in Saturday’s QBE International at Twickenham.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has made five changes from the side that lost 31-28 to South Africa with Saracens star Owen Farrell moving out to 12 in place of Kyle Eastmond, who returned to Bath earlier in the week, while Leicester Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs comes in for Danny Care.
“Those selected have a great opportunity to show what they can do against what will be a highly motivated Samoa team,” Lancaster said.
“It’s great to give George a start in this series, having missed the summer tour through injury.
“He has been impressive in camp and now fully up to speed with the game plan, and he is ready to run the game.
“Owen switches to 12, and I am sure will support George well.”
Farrell is partnered in the England midfield by club team-mate Brad Barritt, who keeps his place for a partnership last utilised by England against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2012.
The back three remains unchanged as Harlequins full-back Mike Brown is joined by Gloucester Rugby wing Jonny May and Bath wing Anthony Watson, who keep his place after winning his first start against the Springboks last week.
Two of the three changes in the back row see Wasps star James Haskell replace Northampton Saints flanker Tom Wood on the blindside with Gloucester Rugby No.8 Ben Morgan taking over from Billy Vunipola, with captain Chris Robshaw continuing at openside.
“In the back row both James and Ben have been in great form and I am sure they will bring their physical presence to the game,” Lancasted added.
The only other change comes in front row as Bath hooker Rob Webber comes in for Northampton’s Dylan Hartley, who drops to the bench, with Harlequins loosehead and Joe Marler and Bath’s David Wilson continuing as Lancaster’s preferred props.
“Hooker is another competitive position,” Lancaster added.
“We believe Rob is ready for the start and will continue the progress he made on the New Zealand tour.”
Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees, Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth take their place on the bench after being included in the match-day squad for the first time this autumn.
England: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Brad Barritt (Saracens), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby); George Ford (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Rob Webber (Bath), David Wilson (Bath); Dave Attwood (Bath), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Ben Morgan (Gloucester).
Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), George Kruis (Saracens), Tom Wood (Northampton); Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Marland Yarde (Harlequins).