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Beat-up England itching to bounce back in Boks clash

SOUTH AFRICA will be hoping to keep their winning streak going against an English side desperate to bounce back after last weekend's defeat to the Wallabies at Twickenham.


Wasps lock Joe Launchbury will make his first England start as one of six changes to the team to face South Africa in tomorrow's QBE autumn international. Alex Corbisiero, Tom Wood, Ben Morgan, Ben Youngs and Mike Brown all return. England's chances of breaking into tier one in the seedings are remote and prop Corbisiero expects a reaction from his side.

"The boys were a little beaten up but we've got our sleeves rolled up and we know we've got to put a lot of things right to get the win against South Africa," he said. "Everyone's really positive and motivated and we're all back on the horse trying to get it right for the weekend."


Scott Lawson is determined to take his opportunity after being handed a rare chance to start for Scotland in tomorrow's EMC Test with Tonga.

The 31-year-old has 35 caps, but to date just nine have come as a starter, the most recent being the World Cup warm-up clash with Italy.

Lawson had been slated to start the World Cup pool match against Georgia in Invercargill, but was a late withdrawal through injury and is belatedly handed his opportunity, with Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford rested.

"I've been involved with the squad for years and been on the bench a lot," Lawson said. "It's been tough. I've had numerous conversations with Andy (Robinson, the head coach) regarding game time and playing minutes.

"The most important thing for me is now I've been given an opportunity to start I'm just focused on making sure I take it."


The All-Blacks are rolling out the big guns with Richie McCaw and Dan Carter returning to their side to take on the wounded animal that is Wales. However, Carter has handed the world champions a fitness scare after pulling up in training yesterday with a leg twinge.

George North is a late absentee for the Welsh, who will be hoping to salvage their November series after humiliating defeats to Argentina and Samoa, but New Zealand boss Steve Hansen does not think their poor form will affect the match.

"We have always known this game will be a fiercely contested match," he said. "The Welsh team in the last 12 months have been grand slam winners and 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-finalists.

"We have known since the World Cup that this would be the game that they would be targeting in this autumn series, so any recent performances or results won't have any bearing on this match."

Wales have lost their last five internationals and have not beaten the All-Blacks since 1953.


France can do Ireland a favour by beating Samoa to make sure Declan Kidney's men's fate is in their own hands. A victory for the Samoans would condemn Ireland to tier three in the Rugby World Cup draw.

Philippe Saint-Andre's team have been stellar in beating Australia and Argentina in the November series, but the manager admits that Les Bleus sometimes struggle with the favourites tag they will have against Samoa, who humbled Wales last weekend. "We know that the French have problems dealing with that," warned Saint-Andre.

Victory is likely to strengthen France's fourth place in the IRB rankings, which will be used for the 2015 World Cup seedings. France have won their only two matches against Samoa, prevailing 39-22 in 1999 and 43-5 in 2009.


Italy have never beaten Australia and few people see that statistic changing this weekend when the Azzurri take on Robbie Deans' men.

Deans has given scrum-half Brett Sheehan a first Test start against Italy in Florence tomorrow in one of four changes to the side that beat England last week.

Sheehan, who made his international debut six years ago, replaces Nick Phipps in the number nine shirt, while Scott Higginbotham returns at blindside flanker and Drew Mitchell replaces Digby Ioane on the wing.

"Drew is one of the most experienced Test wingers in Australian history, Stephen Moore is our most capped hooker, while Scott was the Test incumbent in his position until the suspension," Deans said.

"No one should doubt the impact that Brett Sheehan has made since he has joined the squad either."