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Stevens to start for Saxons

Matt Stevens will return to England colours for the first time since his drugs ban when the Saxons kick off their Churchill Cup campaign this Saturday.

The Saracens prop, who won the last of his 32 Test caps in November 2008, has been named to start in his favoured tight-head position for England's second string against the United States.

Stevens will use the game to further his claims for Rugby World Cup selection, having made a successful return to action with Saracens after serving a two-year suspension for cocaine use. Stevens will be joined in the Saxons line-up by Saracens team-mate Mouritz Botha, a week after they lifted the Aviva Premiership title with victory over Leicester at Twickenham.

With his Saracens and Leicester players now available, Saxons coach Stuart Lancaster has made 11 changes from the team that lost to the Barbarians on Sunday.

Gloucester lock Dave Attwood continues in the second row and Exeter's Tom Johnson starts again in the back row, although he switches to the openside. Mike Brown retains the full-back jersey and Henry Trinder, who scored England's first try against the Barbarians, continues at outside centre.

Otherwise it is all change. Rory Clegg and Mickey Young form a new half-back partnership with Billy Twelvetrees at inside centre while Topsy Ojo and Miles Benjamin start on the wings.

Up front, Stevens will pack down with Matt Mullan at loose-head and hooker Joe Gray with Attwood and Botha in the second row. Jordan Crane captains the team from number eight with James Gaskell starting at blindside flanker.

England Saxons team to play the United States in the Churchill Cup at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday, June 4 (kick-off 5pm):

M Brown (Harlequins); T Ojo (London Irish), H Trinder (Gloucester Rugby), B Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers), M Benjamin (Worcester Warriors), R Clegg (Harlequins), M Young (Newcastle Falcons); M Mullan (Worcester Warriors), J Gray (Harlequins), M Stevens (Saracens), M Botha (Saracens), D Attwood (Gloucester Rugby), J Gaskell (Sale Sharks), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), J Crane (Leicester Tigers, capt).

Replacements: D Paice (London Irish), K Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), G Kitchener (Worcester Warriors), J Gibson (London Irish), P Hodgson (London Irish), A Goode (Saracens), C Sharples (Gloucester Rugby).


From Belfast Telegraph