Friday 20 October 2017

Johnson puts faith in youth

Matt Mullan
Matt Mullan
Matt Mullan
Matt Mullan
Matt Mullan
Matt Mullan
Matt Mullan

Martin Johnson will send at least one rookie prop into RBS Six Nations battle against Wales' all-Lions front row after promoting uncapped pair Matt Mullan and Dan Cole into his championship squad.

Mullan, the Worcester loose-head, and Leicester tight-head Cole have joined England's senior group at their training camp in Portugal as injury replacements for Andrew Sheridan and Julian White.

At least one of the highly-rated 22-year-olds is guaranteed at least a place on the bench when England face Wales in their championship opener at Twickenham on February 6.

The Welsh are likely to start with a front row of Adam Jones, Matthew Rees and Gethin Jenkins, who are all Test Lions from the summer tour to South Africa.

Mullan would have been involved in the autumn had he not been injured and he arguably has the better chance of the pair of being catapulted straight into the starting XV.

Tim Payne has been an automatic selection in Sheridan's absence but he has struggled for Wasps in recent weeks. His demolition at the hands of Cole and the Leicester pack earlier this month will have sounded the warning bells, particularly with Jones lying in wait.

Cole is effectively Leicester's third choice tight-head behind White and Martin Castrogiovanni but, as Payne discovered, he has taken his chance with a series of eye-catching performances.

England's other tight-head option, David Wilson, started the last November Test against New Zealand and is another young player to have impressed the national coaches.

Mullan and Cole were called into the squad along with Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw, Wasps number eight Dan Ward-Smith and Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs. The trio have replaced the injured Joe Worsley, Tom Croft and Harry Ellis.

Johnson also confirmed Steve Borthwick will continue as England captain into the Six Nations.

Press Association

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport