Armitage starts for England

2011-09-08 07:53

Dunedin - Delon Armitage will start a Test on the wing for the first time after Mark Cueto was ruled out of England's Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina on Saturday through injury.

Sale wing Cueto, who had a try disallowed during England's 2007 World Cup final defeat by reigning champions South Africa, has been struggling with a back problem that saw him come off early during a 20-9 victory in the team's final warm-up match against Ireland in Dublin last month.

Armitage, normally a fullback, starts on the wing having impressed while coming off the bench to score a try after replacing Cueto in Dublin.

"Mark's had a little bit (of back trouble) before but he could have played (against Argentina)," England manager Martin Johnson told reporters after unveiling his side on Thursday.

"There's a grey area between fit and injured in where most players sit all of the time.

"He trained fully all week, but he's not quite where he needs to be but the good things for us is Delon is playing very well," Johnson said of the 22-times capped Armitage.

"It's quite a simple decision. Delon been around for a few years now, we know when he is in form he is a Test match player. We've no qualms about picking him in any of the back three positions."

Jonny Wilkinson starts at flyhalf, having moved ahead of Toby Flood in the pecking order during the August warm-up programme, as England begin their bid to appear in a third succcessive World Cup final against an Argentina side who finished third in France four years ago.

It was Wilkinson who gave then England captain Johnson the chance to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy when his extra-time drop-goal secured victory against Australia in the 2003 World Cup final.

"Jonny's been in great form and has just got his nose in front but that might change next week," Johnson said."We don't have a drop-off between players in positions and all 30 could start."

Nick Easter returns at No 8 after missing the Ireland fixture with a calf strain while 2003 World Cup winning centre Mike Tindall captains the side in the absence of flanker Lewis Moody, sidelined with a longstanding knee injury.

James Haskell moves to openside flank, in place of Hendre Fourie who played against Ireland but was not selected in the World Cup squad.

Samoa-born centre Manu Tuilagi, who has scored two tries in his two Tests so far, continues alongside Tindall in midfield.

The Pumas named an experienced team on Tuesday but England have won 11 of their 15 Tests against the South Americans.

Argentina are renowned for their forward power but Johnson said there was more to their game than a powerful pack.

"They do what they do very well but they've got more dimensions to them than is sometimes made out in the media.

"They are a dangerous running side, they come at you through forwards but put you under pressure with their kicks as well. It's a full-on Test against a team that finished third in the world last time.

"You have to get it right in the moment, right from the opening kick-off."


England: 15 Ben Foden; 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Mike Tindall (capt), 11 Delon Armitage; 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Nick Easter, 7 James Haskell, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Andrew Sheridan

Substitutes: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Ben Youngs, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Matt Banahan

Argentina: 15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Gonzalo Camacho, 10 Felipe Contepomi, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero

Substitutes: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Martin Scelzo, 18 Mariano Galarza, 19 Alejandro Campos, 20 Alfredo Lalanne, 21 Marcelo Bosch, 22 Juan Jose Imhoff


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