Rugby Union: England keen to establish fluent back line before the Tests

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The Independent Online
The Sale full-back Jim Mallinder and the Wasps centre Nick Greenstock look certain to win their first England caps against Argentina next Saturday. Both players have retained their places to face Buenos Aires today as England look to fine-tune their back division in time for the Pumas challenge.

"We feel that Jim needs another chance to work with wings Jon Sleightholme and Adedayo Adebayo," Mike Slemen, the assistant coach, said.

Although there are eight changes from the side who beat Cordoba 38-21 on Thursday, only two are behind the scrum as the Wasps half-backs, Alex King and Andy Gomarsall, are given a first tour opportunity.

Slemen admitted that some members of the 30-strong squad may hardly get a look-in during the next fortnight. Players such as Daren O'Leary, Matt Allen and Dave Rees must wait until at least the Argentina A game on Tuesday before making an appearance as England attempt to win their first Test series on Argentinian soil since 1981.

"Some players are out here purely so that we can look at them from a development point of view," Slemen said.

"Experience is crucial on a trip like this and it delighted us that people such as Phil de Glanville, Ben Clarke and Mike Catt had such fine games against Cordoba.

"The really pleasing thing is that this squad has really gelled on and off the pitch, everyone is working hard for each other and the Cordoba success proved a real confidence boost."

Buenos Aires are among the top three Argentinian club sides and were recently involved in a tight provincial championship battle with Cordoba.

England have picked an all-changed front row with the Bath props, Kevin Yates and John Mallett, either side of the Leicester hooker Richard Cockerill. Dave Baldwin partners Nigel Redman in the second row, and Tony Diprose and Steve Ojomoh complete the back row alongside Clarke.

Whether Yates plays will probably depend on a late fitness test. He sprained his ankle in Cordoba, but England reported no lasting damage from a physically punishing match.

The tour party flew into Buenos Aires yesterday where they will play four of the five remaining matches of the tour.

ENGLAND (v Buenos Aires, today): J Mallinder (Sale); J Sleightholme (Bath); N Greenstock (Wasps), P de Glanville (Bath, capt), A Adebayo (Bath); A King (Wasps), A Gomarsall (Wasps); K Yates (Bath), R Cockerill (Leicester), J Mallett (Bath), D Baldwin (Sale), N Redman (Bath), B Clarke (Richmond), A Diprose (Saracens), S Ojomoh (Bath). Replacements: M Mapletoft (Gloucester), J Baxendell (Sale), K Bracken (Saracens), D Garforth (Leicester), P Greening (Gloucester), M Corry (Bristol).

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