Rokoduguni set for debut

2014-11-04 23:15
Semesa Rokoduguni (Getty Images)

London - Uncapped wing Semesa Rokoduguni is in line to make his England debut against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday after being retained Tuesday in coach Stuart Lancaster's 23-man matchday squad.

The 27-year-old Fijian-born British Army soldier is one of four Bath backs who could all feature against the All Blacks in the first of 2015 World Cup hosts England's November internationals, with Anthony Watson, Kyle Eastmond and George Ford also included.

With England's first-choice centres Manu Tuilagi (groin) and Luther Burrell (hand) both sidelined from this weekend's clash, Lancaster is set to pair Saracens' Brad Barritt, renowned for his defensive ability, alongside the exciting Eastmond in midfield.

Eastmond experienced mixed fortunes during England's 3-0 series defeat in New Zealand in June, impressing in the first Tets but being withdrawn at half-time in the third after his defence was found wanting against the All Blacks.

Danny Care and Owen Farrell are in line to form the half-back combination, even though fly-half Farrell has started just two matches for club side Saracens this season because of a thigh injury.

In the back row, Lancaster looks set to field his favoured loose-forward trio of Billy Vunipola, captain Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood.

Injuries to locks Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury and Ed Slater have complicated England's second row selection, with Dave Attwood set to come in after his fiancee, Bridget, gave birth to the couple's first child on Tuesday.
- New father Attwood to face All Blacks -

"Massive thanks from everyone," Attwood said on Twitter. "@briewhelan was a superstar. Everyone is doing amazingly well. Couldn't be happier."

Meanwhile Lancaster said England were eager to end a run of four straight defeats by New Zealand.

"The players have worked really hard and everyone who has been in camp has pushed hard for selection and their attitude has been fantastic," said the England coach.

"We are excited about the squad we have picked and we are looking forward to getting back to Twickenham this weekend and taking on a team of the quality of New Zealand," he added.

Lancaster is due to name his starting XV and eight-man bench on Thursday when New Zealand will also unveil their line-up.

England 23-man squad to play New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday:

Backs (10)

Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Kyle Eastmond (Bath), Owen Farrell(Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Jonny May (Gloucester), Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath), Anthony Watson (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Forwards (13)

Dave Attwood (Bath), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (Wasps), David Wilson (Bath), Ben Morgan (Gloucester), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Rob Webber (Bath), Tom Wood (Northampton)

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