Stuart Lancaster has made four changes in personnel and one positional switch to the England team to face Wales at Twickenham on Saturday. Lee Dickson, Ben Morgan, and Geoff Parling will all make their first Test starts, while Owen Farrell will start at No 10 in place of his Saracens team-mate Charlie Hodgson, who has failed to recover from an injury to his left index finger. Leicester’s Manu Tuilagi has also recovered from a hamstring injury, and will partner Brad Barritt in the midfield.
Also making the return from injury are lock Courtney Lawes and fly-half Toby Flood, who will take their places on the bench on Saturday alongside Ben Youngs and Phil Dowson, who have both been dropped from the starting XV.
Lancaster said: “It’s been a good start with two wins but we’ve got real competition for places and Lee, Ben and Geoff deserve an opportunity to start this game. It means that Phil (Dowson) and Ben (Youngs) will provide a different role from the bench and it’s great to have Courtney and Toby, who can also give us options in what I am sure will be a full-on encounter.
“Charlie cut his finger in training earlier in the week and needed stitches but it swelled up and there is a sprain there. We assessed him this morning and he cannot grip fully. Owen has trained throughout and knows our patterns and plays so we are fully confident in his ability to run the game from 10 and we are looking forward to seeing how Brad and Manu gel together in the centre.
“It’s our first home game of the RBS 6 Nations which we are really excited about and we are sure the crowd will get behind us just as the travelling supporters have done in Scotland and Italy. Playing at Twickenham makes it extra special for us and I know we will get all the encouragement we need.”
Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Mouritz Bohta, Geoff Parling, Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw (capt), Ben Morgan.
Replacements: Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, Courtney Lawes, Phil Dowson, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Mike Brown.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.