Burns gets fly-half nod
Published 17/06/2014 | 13:37
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has confirmed that Freddie Burns will start Saturday's final Test against New Zealand after Owen Farrell was ruled out with a knee injury.
Farrell faces a summer of rehabilitation to repair the ligaments damaged in last weekend's 28-27 defeat by the All Blacks and it is hoped he will be fit for the start of next season.
Burns will pull the strings at the Waikato Stadium after impressing in the first Test, with Danny Cipriani set to deputise from the bench having pressed his claim in Tuesday's 38-7 victory over the Crusaders.
"Obviously it's hugely disappointing for Owen because he wanted to finish the season with the third Test, but these things happen," Lancaster said.
"Freddie and whoever we decide for the bench slot now has another opportunity.
"The challenge facing Freddie is to back up that performance that he produced in the first Test into the third Test. I'm confident he'll be ready."
Lancaster put a line through the possibility of entering Saturday's climax to the series without specialist fly-half cover, hinting that Cipriani's performance at Christchurch's AMI Stadium had tipped the balance in his favour.
Rival Stephen Myler was a 47th-minute arrival in the tour's only midweek fixture against a Crusaders team missing their All Blacks, but his performance suffered as England came under pressure in the second half.
Scrum-half Lee Dickson also played well and is contention to start in Hamilton on Saturday if Danny Care loses his battle with a shoulder injury.
Care, who struggled in the second Test, missed training on Tuesday and should he fail to recover then Lancaster faces a choice between Dickson and Ben Youngs.
"I'll have a chat with Danny, the physios and everyone else involved on Wednesday to ask the question," Lancaster said.
"He needs to be 100 per cent physically and mentally to be available for selection because you can't go into a Test against the All Blacks not in that position, particularly when I've got three scrum-halves who are fit and able."
Centres Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell, who have been struggling with ankle injuries, are in contention for the final Test after coming through training on Tuesday.
Having conceded the series in Dunedin, England's midweek team answered Lancaster's call to lift spirits ahead of the final attempt of securing only a third away victory against the All Blacks.
Joe Gray began the six-try rout of the Crusaders with Ben Foden, Brad Barritt, Alex Goode, Anthony Watson and Chris Pennell also crossing in a comprehensive victory.
"It was important for us to put in a positive performance and get a good win," Lancaster said.
"The boys in the stand were understandably delighted because this is one team of 47 players.
"It was nice to see those boys come down and congratulate the lads who played. That's an important part of building this England team.
"For me the man of the match was Matt Kvesic - I thought he was outstanding and it was the best game he's had this season.
"I thought the back-row as a whole did well, James Haskell had a strong game and some of the young front-rowers I was pleased with."
Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder was impressed by England and declared they have every chance of toppling the All Blacks in Saturday's final Test.
"England were really clinical and we knew what they'd bring tactically. We were overawed at times and were put to the sword," Blackadder said.
"They have had a good team and in the two Tests there have been standout performances from both teams.
"England are certainly willing and it will come down to one huge effort on Saturday.
"England have a real chance and if they can build on the two performances they've shown they'll be a real threat."