Christian Wade named in England squad to face Barbarians

 

Christian Wade will get a chance to press his claims for the Test series
against South Africa after being named in a strong England team to face
the Barbarians.

The exciting Wasps wing has been selected ahead of David Strettle and is the only member of the England back division who did not feature in the RBS 6 Nations.

Wade finished second in the Aviva Premiership try-scoring charts this season - touching down nine times in 15 games - despite missing three months of the campaign through injury.

England coach Stuart Lancaster is without his 18-strong Leicester and Harlequins contingent, who meet in the Premiership final tomorrow.

Charlie Hodgson returns to fly-half, where he started the Six Nations, and Owen Farrell reverts to inside centre with Brad Barritt shifting to outside centre.

Lee Dickson continues at scrum-half with full-back Ben Foden and wing Chris Ashton completing England's near full-strength back division.

Up front, Dylan Hartley starts at hooker in his first game back after serving an eight-week ban for biting Stephen Ferris in England's Six Nations victory over Ireland in March.

Hartley will be propped by Matt Stevens, who starts on the loosehead side, and Paul Doran-Jones while Mouritz Botha and Tom Palmer pack down in the second row.

Uncapped flankers Carl Fearns and Tom Johnson start in the back row either side of captain Phil Dowson.

Unlike the Welsh Rugby Union, England do not award caps for games against the Barbarians - but Lancaster views it is a vital preparation for the forthcoming five-match, three-Test tour.

And for a player like Wade, it is an early opportunity to prove he is ready for a first Test cap against the Springboks.

"We are treating this as a very important game for setting the foundations for the tour," Lancaster said.

"The players have been excellent this week and have been fully focussed as we are looking to build on the momentum of the Six Nations.

"This is a really important milestone in our preparation for South Africa.

"With the Leicester and Harlequins players unavailable it's a great opportunity for those other players involved in the Six Nations to lead the way.

"Some of the younger players have a chance to put a marker down and get their first taste of international rugby such as Christian Wade on the wing, Joe Launchbury, Alex Goode and Jonathan Joseph on the bench.

"Being able to name a back line very similar to the Six Nations and the strength we have in the forwards with the likes of Tom Johnson and Carl Fearns, who played in this game last year, is a real positive."

With Manu Tuilagi on Premiership final duty, England have returned to the Hodgson-Farrell-Barritt combination that started the Six Nations.

Toby Flood's availability for the tour remains uncertain, although things are expected to become clearer later today when Leicester name their team for the final.

England team to play the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday, May 27 (kick-off 2.30pm)

B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), B Barritt (Saracens), O Farrell (Saracens), C Wade (London Wasps); C Hodgson (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton Saints); M Stevens (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), P Doran Jones (Northampton Saints), M Botha (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), C Fearns (Bath Rugby), P Dowson (Northampton Saints, capt).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath Rugby), M Mullan (Worcester Warriors), J Launchbury (London Wasps), J Gibson (London Irish), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), A Goode (Saracens).

PA

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