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.

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Civil Engineering

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Business: This company is going thro...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS1 & KS2 Teachers Required

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment are currently working...

Recruitment Genius: Lift Repairs Sales Account Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting new opportunity has...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea