Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Lancaster demands impressive start

Stuart Lancaster's side kick off their autumn Test series against Fiji on Saturday

England coach Stuart Lancaster has urged his side to use Saturday's QBE international against Fiji to lay down a marker for the rest of a challenging series.

England will go on to face Australia, South Africa and world champions New Zealand over successive weekends at Twickenham and must retain their fourth-place ranking to be seeded for the 2015 World Cup when the pool draw is made on December 3.

Lancaster, who has named one of the most inexperienced England sides in the professional era to tackle the Fijians, said: "This is the start of a huge four-week journey for us that will test us in every way. It is about putting a marker down at the start of this series."

There are a total of five changes from the 14-14 draw with South Africa in the summer, with Leicester hooker Tom Youngs making his Test debut and Chris Robshaw back to captain the side after missing that Test with a broken hand.

Tom Johnson and Thomas Waldrom continue in the back row after making their Test debuts on the summer tour, while Tom Wood returns to the fold after 14 injury-plagued months with a place on the bench.

Alex Goode continues at full-back while Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi link up in a hard-hitting centre partnership, with the half-backs of Toby Flood and Danny Care the most experienced unit in the team.

Ugo Monye will make his England comeback on the left wing in place of the injured Ben Foden, while Charlie Sharples will deputise for the suspended Chris Ashton on the right wing.

The uncapped pair of Saracens prop Mako Vunipola and Wasps lock Joe Launchbury are primed to make their Test debuts off the bench.

"As you can see from selection, there is a lot of consistency from the South Africa tour, particularly the team that played in the last Test, which is based on form in the Premiership," Lancaster added.

"There are some new players coming in. It is great to get Tom Youngs involved and I am excited to see what Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury could do off the bench."

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