England vs South Africa team news: Anthony Watson to make first start against Springboks as Stuart Lancaster keeps faith in half-backs

Danny Care will earn his 50th cap as he partners Owen Farrell at half-back despite calls for George Ford to start

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Bath wing Anthony Watson will make his first start for England in Saturday’s QBE International against South Africa as Harlequins scrum half Danny Care joins the elite 50 cap club.

Watson replaces Bath Rugby team-mate Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing in the only change to the starting line-up from the match against New Zealand with Harlequins wing Marland Yarde added to the replacements.

Flanker Tom Wood has passed a fitness test and head coach Stuart Lancaster has resisted the urge to change Billy Vunipola at No8 and bring in Ben Morgan. Lancaster believes the players who lost to the world champion All Blacks deserve another chance against the No2 team in the world rankings.

Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes  have successfully completed the Graduated Return To Play protocol and will take part in today’s training session having both received head knocks in the loss to New Zealand.


Lancaster said: “Anthony has been pushing hard for a while and has been in impressive form for Bath and in training with us. It was great that he got on against New Zealand and we feel he is ready to start. Equally, it’s good to have Marland back in the match-day 23. Congratulations to Danny Care who will be winning his 50 cap. It’ll be a special moment for him and I am sure he will rise to the occasion.

Care has reached this milestone despite being ejected from the squad in 2012 for off the field behaviour and quit drinking at that point to prove to his club and England that he could change. He has reached 50 caps despite pressure from a group of talented scrum halves including Ben Youngs, Lee Dickson and Richard Wigglesworth. Care recently became a father for the first time with the arrival of son Blake and the Quins No9 will lead England out on Saturday.

Care will make his 50th appearance for England

England haven’t beaten South Africa since 2006 and that 11 match run includes losing the 2007 Rugby World Cup final in Paris, but they will have taken heart from Ireland’s  win over the Springboks last Saturday in Dublin. The Boks reacted to that set back by making five changes to their line up and expect a torrid forward battle with England.  Coach Heyneke Meyer said he was “ashamed by the 29-15 loss.

Captain Chris Robshaw wants to end that lack of success for England against the World’s No2 team and said:”South Africa are probably the best pack in the world in terms of set piece play and ball carrying. It’s the biggest challenge we can have as a forward pack and one that we get excited about.

“You need to start well and there is a huge amount of pressure to deliver a win this weekend and we want to impose ourselves on the match. All the guys know we have to deliver.

“South Africa is the only team this squad hasn’t beaten and it’s a massive statement we want to make and we know they will want to make a statement with their physicality and it can be a simplistic approach. They have some of the  best players in the world at winning turnovers and we have to take care of possession in the contact situations.

“All the players know that with the World Cup coming up next year, this is our place and we have to perform. I am sure we will grab it with both hands.“

England (v South Africa, QBE International, Saturday, November 8, 2.30pm)

15 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 30 caps)  

14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 1 cap)

13 Brad Barritt (Saracens, 19 caps)  

12 Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby, 5 caps)

11 Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 8 caps) 

10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 26 caps)   

9 Danny Care (Harlequins, 49 caps)  

1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 23 caps)   

2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 58 caps)

3 David Wilson (Bath Rugby, 38 caps)   

4 Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby, 13 caps)  

5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 33 caps)   

6 Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 31 caps)

7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, capt, 29 caps)   

8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 11 caps)


16 Rob Webber (Bath Rugby, 9 caps)

17 Matt Mullan (Wasps, 6 caps)

18 Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 3 caps)

19 George Kruis (Saracens, 1 cap)

20 Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby, 24 caps)

21 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 39 caps)

22 George Ford (Bath Rugby, 3 caps)

23 Marland Yarde (Harlequins, 5 caps)