Freddie Burns in line to make England debut against New Zealand


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The Independent Online

Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns is in line to make his England debut against New Zealand on Saturday after being called up as an injury replacement for Toby Flood.

Scans revealed Flood had not suffered a broken toe after England's 16-15 loss to South Africa but the Leicester playmaker is expected to be ruled out of the All Blacks clash.

Owen Farrell replaced Flood in the second half on Saturday and he would be England's likely starting fly-half against the world champions.

But Burns, the leading points-scorer in the Aviva Premiership, seems certain to go straight into England's 23-man squad to face New Zealand.

The 22-year-old, who trained with England in the build-up to their games against Fiji and Australia, kicked 19 points in Gloucester's 29-3 victory over Sale on Saturday.

Burns was joined in the England camp by Bath wing Tom Biggs, who received his first senior call-up after Ugo Monye suffered a calf injury.

Gloucester prop Nick Wood also linked up with England to act as precautionary cover for Alex Corbisiero.

The England medics are being cautious over Corbisiero, who played against South Africa but is only three matches into his comeback from a knee injury.

England coach Stuart Lancaster said: "Tom is next in line from the Saxons and we are looking forward to getting a look at him.

"Freddie has been in for two of the last three weeks (as injury cover for Jordan Turner-Hall) so we know what he can bring and Nick Wood will provide cover as we manage Alex's knee at the start of the week.

"Toby Flood's toe has been re-examined and there is no bone broken but we will need to see how it settles down over the next 24 hours."

Lancaster met with Chris Robshaw last night and gave his full support to England's under-fire captain.

Robshaw's decision-making is under the microscope again after he instructed Owen Farrell to kick for goal when England were trailing 16-12 with just two minutes left.

Lancaster may privately disagree with the decision but he was not going to hang Robshaw out to dry, not with the All Blacks arriving on Saturday.

"International sport is tough, it's tough for coaches, it's tough for players, it's tough for people if they make a mistake," Lancaster said after the game.

"It happens all the time and what you've got to do is make sure people are supported."

Tom Wood admitted that a third consecutive defeat when New Zealand arrive at Twickenham would be "unacceptable" for England, even at this early stage of the team's development.

Narrow defeats to Australia and South Africa have left England facing the prospect of finishing their autumn campaign with just a solitary win against Fiji.

"We need to salvage something next week. Three losses would be pretty unacceptable and for all the good work we need to reinforce that with a win," Wood said.

"We came out with high expectations. We have come very close and fallen short unfortunately.

"We poured our hearts and souls into the South Africa game. I thought we did a lot of things right.

"To lose by a point is tough to take because in a lot of areas I thought we had the ascendancy.

"It will break for us eventually because we are doing a lot of good stuff.

"We have to get back on the horse quickly. We can't feel sorry for ourselves for too long.

"It would be a great way to finish the series with a win next week against the world champions but we know we will be in for another battle."