Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Launchbury set for England debut

England believe that debutant Joe Launchbury can develop into their 'enforcer'
England believe that debutant Joe Launchbury can develop into their 'enforcer'

Joe Launchbury will make his first Test start after England head coach Stuart Lancaster made six changes for Saturday's QBE international against South Africa.

The 21-year-old Wasps lock has replaced his club-mate Tom Palmer from the second row as part of a forward reshuffle that has seen Lancaster change half his pack from the 20-14 defeat to Australia. Loosehead prop Alex Corbisiero, blindside flanker Tom Wood and number eight Ben Morgan will all make their first starts of the autumn campaign.

In the backs, Mike Brown starts on the left wing with England once again employing the tactic of two full-backs in a bid to combat the Springboks' aerial game. In the nip-and-tuck battle for the scrum-half jersey, Ben Youngs has been preferred to Danny Care primarily because the England management feel he offers a better kicking game.

Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt continue in the centres, meaning Jonathan Joseph returns to the England fold on the bench along with versatile loose-forward James Haskell and Saracens lock Mouritz Botha.

"We have picked a team that will give us the best chance of beating South Africa," Lancaster said. "There were some tight calls, which is what you want as coaches, but the players we have brought in to start have been training well, will bring a real motivation to make the most of their opportunity and will suit the challenge we face against a tough team."

Thomas Waldrom and Tom Johnson are considered unfortunate by the England management to have dropped out of the 23 but Lancaster wanted to inject some power and dynamism into his forward pack.

Palmer has been struggling with a calf injury but, after two disappointing performances, it is understood Launchbury would have started anyway.

Launchbury is seen as England's version of Eben Etzebeth, the 21-year-old South Africa lock described by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer as their "enforcer".

England: A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester), B Barritt (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); A Corbisiero (London Irish), T Youngs (Leicester), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), G Parling (Leicester), T Wood (Northampton), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Gloucester).

Replacements: D Paice (London Irish), D Wilson (Bath), M Vunipola (Saracens), M Botha (Saracens), J Haskell (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), O Farrell (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish).

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