Rugby Union: Guscott back as Woodward makes some tough decisions

England may have played out of their skins against New Zealand last December, but Clive Woodward wants more. The national coach has made three changes, only one of them enforced, for his opening gambit in the Five Nations against the French in Paris on Saturday.

Chris Hewett reports on a brutal selection.

Never believe a coach when he sets about debunking a legend in advance of a big game. This time last week, Clive Woodward was telling anyone who would listen that Jeremy Guscott, one of the sublime midfield talents of his generation, was not quite ready to reclaim possession of his England shirt after seven long months on the treatment table. "No one gets into a side of mine on reputation," Woodward pronounced. "He'll need a huge game for Bath in the Heineken Cup final to stand a chance." Guscott did not have a bad Cup final by any means - in fact, it was pretty outstanding given that he had played only one match since July - but to describe his display as "huge" would be to stretch the definition of the word well beyond breaking point. Nevertheless, Woodward yesterday named him in his starting line-up for Paris, one of Guscott's favourite rugby cities.

All of which gives the Tricolors two things to panic about. They have seen quite enough of Guscott down the years to fear his predatory instincts but, if anything, they are even more concerned about the state of the pitch at the brand spanking new Stade de France in the north of the city. The surface is frost-bound and, given the absence of undersoil heating, there is an outside chance of an embarrassing postponement.

Guscott's recall relegates Phil de Glanville, his Bath colleague, to the replacements' bench - something of an irony, given that Jack Rowell's decision to award De Glanville the England captaincy last season resulted in similar frustration for Guscott. The other back division change sees the temporary demise of Matt Perry after four consecutive Tests at full- back.

If Perry was to be deprived of all his bad luck, he would have no luck at all. The Bath youngster took a stinging slap in the face for the second week running yesterday when Woodward informed him that, like De Glanville, he had conceded his shirt to a club-mate. Not any old club-mate, either, but his close friend Mike Catt, whose lamentable goal-kicking against Richmond 10 days ago effectively cost Perry his place in Bath's Heineken Cup-winning side.

It has not been the greatest few days for the 21-year-old and when he reaches England's palatial Versailles Hotel tomorrow evening, it will be no particular surprise if he finds his room double-booked.

"I didn't expect Matt to jump up and down with joy and he was naturally very disappointed to be among the replacements, but he took the news well and he'll be all the bigger for it," Woodward said.

"To be honest, it's the first time I'd been involved in a really difficult England selection meeting. To change the side after the New Zealand game was a tough decision but we're playing away in unusual circumstances and I think Jerry and Mike bring that extra little bit of experience to the side. Jerry is a genuine outside centre and he's looking fresh. I rate Mike as a massive talent, a world-class attacking player and I'd have been happy to see him in any one of three or four positions.

"The real debate surrounded the inside centre position, where Phil and Will Greenwood were in for one place. I'm happy with the side we've come up with."

England will confront the powerful French pack with one enforced change at hooker, where Mark Regan comes in for the injured Richard Cockerill. Dorian West, who understudies Cockerill at Leicester, steps up to the bench along with Tim Rodber, the Northampton captain and last summer's Lions No 8.

ENGLAND (v France, Five Nations' Championship, Paris, Saturday): M Catt (Bath); D Rees (Sale), W Greenwood (Leicester), J Guscott (Bath), A Healey (Leicester), P Grayson (Northampton), K Bracken (Saracens), J Leonard (Harlequins), M Regan (Bath), D Garforth (Leicester), M Johnson (Leicester), G Archer (Newcastle), L Dallaglio (Wasps, capt), R Hill (Saracens), N Back (Leicester). Replacements to be named.

Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone