Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lancaster to freshen up team for Springboks challenge

Mick Cleary and Gavin Mairs

England head coach Stuart Lancaster revealed that he would make changes for Saturday's game against South Africa as he looked "to freshen things up" after the 20-14 defeat to Australia.

Northampton flanker Tom Wood is primed to return with England stung by comments from Clive Woodward that they need to "toughen up" at Test level.

London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero will also start because Harlequins' Joe Marler is ruled out with a knee injury.

Lancaster also rallied round his captain, Chris Robshaw, who came off second best in the openside battle with Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper, who was voted Man of the Match.

"I don't see Chris' performance warranting him being dropped," said Lancaster. "He's our captain for the series and I'm more than happy with his contribution."

Lancaster could do with Toulon openside Steffon Armitage, who last night was voted the outstanding overseas player in France's Top 14.


Armitage has been out of favour since moving to France 18 months ago.

Lancaster was not for changing his mind yesterday about a recall, citing the fact that Armitage would not be available for the game against the All Blacks on December 1 as it falls outside the designated release dates in the International Rugby Board window, and questioning his fitness levels.

Other changes might involve Joe Launchbury coming into the second-row and the inclusion of London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph.

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer is determined his side do not make the same "mistake" as they did before their draw in the third Test against England in June.

Meyer feels his side missed the opportunity to complete a 3-0 series whitewash against England by easing off in the run-up to the third Test.

Meyer has troubles elsewhere. Eben Etzebeth could be hit with a lengthy ban after being cited for making contact with the eye area of Scotland fly-half Greig Laidlaw during last Saturday's Test at Murrayfield, which the Springboks won 21-10. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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