England recall Strettle

2012-03-15 14:49

London - England have recalled wing David Strettle into their starting side for the Six Nations international against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

Strettle, who withdrew on the eve of England's 24-22 win against France in Paris last weekend with a chest injury, was the only change to the starting XV named by interim coach Stuart Lancaster on Thursday.

Saracens flyer Strettle replaced Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples, his stand-in against France.

On the bench, Bath hooker Lee Mears comes in for Rob Webber, who suffered a shoulder injury at the Stade de France.

"David Strettle has now recovered from his injury and will replace Charlie Sharples, who gained valuable experience in Paris," Lancaster said.

"It's good to have Lee Mears on the bench and he will bring great energy and experience should he get a chance to come on."

England fullback Ben Foden will face Ireland just four days after his Irish singer girlfriend Una Healy of pop group The Saturdays gave birth to their daughter Aoife Belle.

Meanwhile, loose forward Phil Dowson is on the bench despite suffering a heavy blow to the head during the closing stages in Paris.

Saturday's match will be Lancaster's last as interim coach of England after the former boss of the reserve Saxons was appointed on a caretaker basis for the Six Nations following Martin Johnson's post World Cup resignation.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) will have to decide whether to give Lancaster the job on a full-time basis or opt for the likes of the vastly more experienced former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett instead.

Lancaster has impressed during his brief spell in charge, bringing through several new players including 20-year-old flyhalf Owen Farrell and gifted No 8 Ben Morgan, while becoming the first England coach to oversee three away wins in a single Six Nations season - a feat beyond even 2003 World Cup winning supremo Clive Woodward.

Another victory on Saturday would give Lancaster a record of four wins from five Tests - with the lone loss a 19-12 home defeat by champions-elect Wales.

Lancaster, who has been working with assistant coaches Andy Farrell, the father of Owen and Graham Rowntree, the lone survivor from Johnson's senior backroom team, said: "It seems like yesterday when we got together in Leeds in January and began a new journey for England Rugby.

"Graham, Andy and myself firmly believe in this group of players and the direction we are going.

"Saturday is another step on that road and we are looking forward to coming home to a packed Twickenham with its special atmosphere and crowd. Their support has been phenomenal and we hope we can do the whole nation proud again."

But Ireland, who named their side earlier this week, have beaten England in seven of the last eight Six Nations matches between the two countries and come into this Test on the back of a thumping 32-14 win over Scotland.

England still have a mathematical chance of winning the title although Wales's points difference advantage of plus 38 leaves them in pole position.

If England are to end up on top of the standings they must beat Ireland comprehensively and hope Wales, bidding for a Grand Slam, suffer a thumping defeat by France in Cardiff.



15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Corbisiero

Substitutes: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Tom Palmer, 19 Phil Dowson, 20 Ben Youngs, 21 Charlie Hodgson, 22 Mike Brown