England coach rings changes for France visit

6th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - England coach Brian Ashton has been forced to ring the changes ahead of the Sunday's Six Nations clash with France at Twickenham after three players were ruled out with injury.

LONDON, March 6, 2007 (AFP) -    England coach Brian Ashton has been forced to ring the changes ahead of the Sunday's Six Nations clash with France at Twickenham after three players were ruled out with injury.

Captain Phil Vickery (concussion), fly-half Jonny Wilkinson (hamstring) and centre Andy Farrell (back) are all out.

It means there are several changes to the team that was humiliated 43-13 by Ireland at Croke Park last month.

Julian White comes into the front row instead of Vickery, while Toby Flood will make his first Test start as replacement for his stricken Newcastle colleague Wilkinson.

Elsewhere, 35-year-old World Cup-winning veteran Mike Catt returns to the midfield as centre partner for Mike Tindall and will also captain the team, while number eight Martin Corry switches to the second row.

Jason Robinson has recovered from a neck injury to reclaim one of the wing berths alongside David Strettle, with Josh Lewsey moving to full-back instead of the injured Olly Morgan.

In the pack, four players - prop Perry Freshwater, locks Louis Deacon and Danny Grewcock, together with flanker Magnus Lund - pay the price for England's record defeat to Ireland and record Six Nations defeat.

Deacon and Lund drop to the bench while Freshwater and Grewcock are left out altogether.

Wasps prop Tim Payne starts in the front row instead of Freshwater with Corry and Tom Palmer forging a new second-row partnership.

In the back row, Joe Worsley keeps his place but there are starts for his Wasps colleague Tom Rees in the number seven shirt and Harlequins' Nick Easter at number eight.

In total, there are eight changes of personnel and two positional switches.

Wilkinson had scans yesterday for a right hamstring strain but will not recover in time for the weekend.

It is the latest setback for a player beset by injury problems since the 2003 World Cup. After this weekend, he will have missed 31 of England's last 34 Tests.

Skipper Vickery has not recovered from the concussion he sustained during Wasps's Guinness Premiership game against Bristol last Sunday, while Farrell continues to be treated for the lower back pain that has put him out of contention.

England 15-1

Josh Lewsey (Wasps), David Strettle (Harlequins), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Mike Catt (capt, London Irish), Jason Robinson (Sale), Toby Flood (Newcastle), Harry Ellis (Leicester); Nick Easter (Harlequins), Tom Rees (Wasps), Joe Worsley (Wasps), Tom Palmer (Wasps), Martin Corry (Tigers), Julian White (Leicester), George Chuter (Leicester), Tim Payne (Wasps)

Replacements: Lee Mears (Bath), Stuart Turner (Sale), Louis Deacon (Leicester), Magnus Lund (Sale), Shaun Perry (Bristol), Shane Geraghty (London Irish), Mathew Tait (Newcastle)

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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