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England defend May's return at expense of Rokoduguni for Argentina clash

Published 23/11/2016

England have defended their decision to leave out Semesa Rokoduguni and recall Jonny May for the Test against Argentina
England have defended their decision to leave out Semesa Rokoduguni and recall Jonny May for the Test against Argentina

England insist the decision to drop Semesa Rokoduguni for Saturday's clash with Argentina is based on the desire to restore Jonny May to the starting XV.

Rokoduguni's Bath team-mates Matt Banahan and Matt Garvey have expressed their surprise after the wing was sent back to the Recreation Ground despite scoring two tries in Saturday's 58-15 victory over Fiji.

It is the second time in his two caps that Rokoduguni has been axed immediately after making a Test appearance, the first taking place after defeat by New Zealand in 2014, seemingly on the grounds of stage fright.

Jones spoke of the need to handle the 29-year-old with care because of the treatment he received at the hands of Stuart Lancaster's regime, only to now discard him for Argentina.

Banahan tweeted: "Just caught up with the news Rocco has been released after his display at the weekend, what message does that send after a MOM #whybother?"

Garvey was equally confused by the axing of the 29-year-old, tweeting "Words fail me! #rokoduguni"

May will replace Rokoduguni on the right wing after being given an extra week to sharpen his conditioning having started the opener against South Africa, while Elliot Daly wins a second opportunity on the left wing after excelling against Fiji.

"We've seen this before haven't we between week one and week two of the autumn. Jonny May had a good game against South Africa and scored a try," defence coach Paul Gustard said.

"On a game by game basis we have to pick a team that we think is most appropriate for the threats that we are going to face and for the opportunities that we want to exploit. He (Rokoduguni) along with several others miss out this weekend."

England have stretched their winning sequence to 12 Tests with victories over South Africa and Fiji but they have leaked five tries, some of which Gustard believes were "unbelievably soft".

"There have been some really good signs, positive signs and growth areas post the Australia tour," Gustard said.

"Unfortunately we've shipped a couple of unbelievably soft tries which is disappointing. We're better than that, but stats don't always reflect the performance of the team.

"We've spoken as a group of the need to raise our level again and that's what we're doing.

"We had a great day on Tuesday and we're looking forward to a good performance on Saturday.

"Yes we can be better, but we are the same group of players and same coaching group that conceded four tries in the Six Nations.

"We've not quite hit our straps yet. We know we can be better and we will be better on Saturday."

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