Rugby

England pick Fiji-born wing

2014-11-06 12:18
Stuart Lancaster (AFP)
London - England have named the uncapped Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing for their November series opener against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.


Fiji-born Rokoduguni, a serving soldier in the British Army with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, has been called up after an impressive start to the season with Bath.

Now England will look to the 27-year-old, who has seen active service in Afghanistan, to provide both pace and power in a back division missing the dynamism of injured centre Manu Tuilagi.

"I'm delighted for Roko," said England coach Stuart Lancaster after naming his side.

"Wing is an extremely competitive position, but he has pushed himself forward with his form this season and it's great to be able to give him this opportunity.

Rokoduguni is one of three uncapped players in the 23 with Bath team-mate Anthony Watson offering cover for the back three from the bench and Saracens' George Kruis the second-row replacement.

Dave Attwood, one of seven Bath players in the matchday 23, starts at lock after his fiancee gave birth to their first child on Tuesday.

"I'm sure Anthony and George will contribute should they come off the bench," said Lancaster.

"Dave Attwood has had an eventful week with the birth of his first child. He's back with us now and will be ready to go for Saturday."

Injuries have disrupted 2015 World Cup hosts England's plans as they look to end a run of four straight defeats by the All Blacks, including a 3-0 series loss in New Zealand in June.

Tuilagi's absence has led Lancaster to select a new midfield pairing of Kyle Eastmond, one of the stars of the English Premiership season so far, and Brad Barritt.

Eastmond had a mixed tour of New Zealand, impressing in the first Test but being found wanting in the third where he was replaced at half-time after struggling in defence.

By contrast Saracens midfielder Barritt, a try-scorer when England last beat the All Blacks, 38-21 at Twickenham in 2012, is widely regarded as one of the best defensive centres in the Premiership.

Danny Care and Owen Farrell form the half-back pairing even though goalkicking fly-half Farrell has started just two matches for Saracens this season because of a thigh injury.

England's pack, without several injured British and Irish Lions forwards, has seen Billy Vunipola hold off a challenge from Ben Morgan to start at No 8.

The back-row also includes England captain Chris Robshaw, the Harlequins flanker, with Tom Wood completing the loose forward trio.

Attwood was the next lock in line to partner Courtney Lawes after Geoff Parling (concussion) and more recently Joe Launchbury (neck) were both ruled out of the entire November series.

After the All Blacks match, England's November programme sees them face South Africa, Samoa and World Cup pool opponents Australia.

Teams:

England
15 Mike Brown, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8-Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 George Kruis, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 George Ford, 23 Anthony Watson

New Zealand
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett,

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Liam Messam, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ryan Crotty

Read more on:    england  |  stuart lancaster  |  rugby
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