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Worsley gets England nod

Joe Worsley will make his first start for England since the group stages of the 2007 World Cup after being selected at open-side flanker for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations game against Wales.

Worsley replaces Steffon Armitage, who made his international debut in last Saturday's 36-11 win over Italy but has now dropped out of the match squad altogether.

In England's only other change to face the defending Six Nations champions, Mike Tindall has recovered from injury to take the place of Jamie Noon at outside centre.

Worsley, predominantly a blind-side flanker by trade, has been pressed into action in the number seven jersey after England lost Tom Rees, Lewis Moody and Michael Lipman to injury, while Armitage struggled with the rigours of Test rugby on his debut.

Once again there is no place in England's squad for Danny Cipriani, who was left out by Johnson last week on the premise he needed game time but was then denied a chance to impress when the England Saxons match against Ireland A was postponed due to the weather.

Armitage is joined out of the squad by Ben Foden and Shane Geraghty. Toby Flood takes over from Geraghty after recovering from a calf injury.

England manager Martin Johnson sees Worsley as a crucial hit-man option against a Welsh side with a mobile back row.

Johnson said: "His defensive work is second to none. He is a very effective tackler and a big ball carrier. He is an experienced player who has been around a long time."

Worsley has played only a "couple" of matches for Wasps this season at openside but is not daunted by facing one of the world's best flankers in Williams.

Worsley said: "It will be difficult. He's a fantastic player and it is a big ‘ask'. We're all aware we will have to play a hell of a lot better to have a chance this weekend.

"It gives you some impetus when you hear what other people think. But desire to win is why people play at this level, and I have been like that - regardless of whether we were favourites or going down to Cardiff as we are now. I go out and play the same."

Belfast Telegraph


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