Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

England name unchanged team

Martin Johnson

England manager Martin Johnson has named an unchanged team for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy at Twickenham.

Johnson will send out the same starting XV that laid the foundations for England's 26-19 victory over Wales, their first win in Cardiff since 2003.

The only change to England's 22-man squad comes on the bench, where Leeds flanker Hendre Fourie replaces Joe Worsley after recovering from a calf injury.

Fourie was not considered for the Wales game but he came through a 40-minute appearance for Leeds unscathed last weekend to prove his fitness.

Johnson's decision to leave his starting line-up intact means a Twickenham debut for the Northampton flanker Tom Wood, who made such an impressive introduction to Test rugby last week.

Mike Tindall continues as captain in the injury-enforced absence of Lewis Moody, who is targeting a return to action for the France game on February 26.

Twelve months ago, Johnson loaded his bench with forwards - including a full front row - in a bid to counter the Italians' ferocious power.

England produced a one-dimensional performance in Rome that was devoid of creative ideas and they scraped a 17-12 victory.

That dismal game was not helped by the old breakdown interpretations but it proved a watershed for England, with senior players demanding a change in approach.

One year on and the fact Johnson has retained a four-three split on the bench indicates a greater confidence in England's attacking options. Toby Flood, Tom Palmer, Chris Ashton, Ben Youngs and Ben Foden will all start on Saturday having brought an extra dimension to England's game.

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