England brings in Owen Farrell to replace Charlie Hodgson for Wales clash
Published 23/02/2012 | 10:46
OWEN Farrell will start at fly-half for England in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations game against Wales after Charlie Hodgson failed to recover from a finger injury.
Farrell's switch from inside centre has opened the way for Manu Tuilagi to return to the England midfield alongside Brad Barritt, one of four changes from the 19-15 win against Italy two weekends ago.
Scarlets number eight Ben Morgan, Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson and Leicester lock Geoff Parling will all make their first Test starts for England.
Hodgson, who suffered a cut and sprain to his left index finger in training earlier in the week, was finally ruled out of the match this morning.
Farrell has been preferred at fly-half to Toby Flood, who returns to the England squad on the bench alongside fit-again Northampton lock Courtney Lawes.
"Charlie cut his finger in training earlier in the week and needed stitches but it swelled up and there is a sprain there," said England interim coach Stuart Lancaster.
"We assessed him this morning and he cannot grip fully. Owen has trained throughout and knows our patterns and plays so we are fully confident in his ability to run the game from 10.
"We are looking forward to seeing how Brad and Manu gel together in the centre.
"It's been a good start with two wins but we've got real competition for places and Lee, Ben and Geoff deserve an opportunity to start this game."
Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs and Northampton number eight Phil Dowson drop to the bench, but there is no place for Stade Francais lock Tom Palmer, who started England's wins against Scotland and Italy.
England team to play Wales at Twickenham on Saturday, February 25 (kick-off 1600):
B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), B Barritt (Saracens), D Strettle (Saracens); O Farrell (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton Saints); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), M Botha (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Scarlets)
Replacements: R Webber (London Wasps), M Stevens (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton Saints), P Dowson (Northampton Saints), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers), T Flood (Leicester Tigers), M Brown (Harlequins)