England unveil fresh-faced Six Nations team
Thursday 02 February 2012
England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster believes he has "a team for now and a team for the future" as the squad which he hopes will reach their peak at the 2015 World Cup take their first step against Scotland on Saturday.
Lancaster has named three uncapped players in his starting line-up - Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt and Phil Dowson - for the RBS 6 Nations opener at Murrayfield with a further five would-be debutants on the replacements' bench.
The coach told reporters today: "If you remember right at the outset I talked about two things - building a team that has longevity, and giving opportunities to new players, and we also talked about developing a style of play that allows us to express ourselves in terms of talent from both an attacking and a defensive point of view, and I like to think we have been true to our word in (this) selection.
"It's about a team for now and a team for the future, we're trying to achieve both.
"We have got 40 games between now and the next World Cup, and we need to put experience into that group of players so that they have got an opportunity to grow and develop on the international stage, but equally we go to Murrayfield for the first time and experience it and that is part of that journey.
"Equally, we also know that the result is paramount at the weekend, so we need to keep an eye on that."
Number eight Dowson has been selected to play his first Test at the age of 30, and Lancaster said: "It was a nice moment for me personally (telling him he would start). He's hugely experienced as a leader, a very good footballer, he's played a lot of big games and he's desperate to play for England - that was a big factor for me. He has worked and worked and worked, tried and tried and tried and he deserves his opportunity to get the start."
Saracens duo Barritt and Farrell will be the centre partnership for England but Lancaster does not necessarily believe England's attacking approach will mirror that of the Premiership champions.
"Saracens have got a unique style that suits their players and their skills, we play Owen and Barritt in a slight different way. We've got our own philosophy - not mirrored on any one in particular but we have tried to take the strengths of our clubs."
Wasps hooker Rob Webber, Leicester lock Geoff Parling, Scarlets number eight Ben Morgan, Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson and Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall are all primed to make their debuts from the bench.
Lancaster's starting line-up boasts just 236 Test caps, including Lions appearances, compared to Scotland's 501. The Scottish pack alone has more international experience than England.
Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson is the most experienced player in the England line-up with 36 caps, but he will be making his first Test start in four years.
Seven of England's starting XV go into the game with 10 caps or fewer, while Chris Robshaw will captain England in only his second Test appearance.
England team: 15-Ben Foden, 14-Chris Ashton, 13-Brad Barritt, 12-Owen Farrell, 11-David Strettle, 10-Charlie Hodgson, 9-Ben Youngs; 8-Phil Dowson, 7-Chris Robshaw (captain), 6-Tom Croft, 5-Tom Palmer, 4-Mouritz Botha, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Dylan Hartley, 1-Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16-Rob Webber, 17-Matt Stevens, 18-Geoff Parling, 19-Ben Morgan, 20-Lee Dickson, 21-Jordan Turner-Hall. 22-Mike Brown.
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