Marland Yarde set to make Test debut for England against Argentina
The tourists are looking to take a 2-0 lead in the series
Thursday 13 June 2013
London Irish wing Marland Yarde is set to make his Test debut on Saturday when England go hunting for a 2-0 series victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Yarde is expected to replace David Strettle on the left wing and Bath's Kyle Eastmond is in line to take over at inside from Billy Twelvetrees, who has been called up by the British and Irish Lions.
England coach Stuart Lancaster had been set on making just one change from the last weekend's 32-3 victory in Salta until Twelvetrees' Lions call prompted a midfield rethink. The team will be formally announced today.
Yarde, who was born in St Lucia, will become the 24th new player capped by Lancaster in 19 Tests and he could be the long-term answer to England's problem left wing position.
With Strettle unable to nail down the position, Lancaster has taken to using full-backs Mike Brown and Ben Foden in the 11 jersey over the last 12 months but that has upset the balance of the England back three.
Yarde scored seven tries in 23 appearances for a struggling London Irish side last season and he will offer England a combination of pace and power on the left wing.
Speaking in February, London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith hailed Yarde as "the complete package" and claimed he is a better player than Chris Ashton because of the work he does in defence and under the high ball and tipped him to win 50 caps.
The England management have been very impressed with Eastmond, particularly the attacking skills coach Mike Catt who has been raving about his play-making abilities.
Eastmond is no shrinking violet in defence either and he made an eye-catching debut off the bench in Salta last weekend, an experience which he felt justified his decision to switch codes from rugby league in 2011.
"To be involved with England and pull the shirt on first time was unbelievable. Just getting out there and getting on the field was great," Eastmond said.
"It is not a quick thing when you are switching codes. It has been tough but this is where I want to be and I know what I have got to do to improve myself and improve my game and become a better player.
"Hopefully I can go on and do more.
"They (rugby league fans) showed what they really thought about the move but it was something I really wanted to do and I am really glad I made the decision and came to rugby union."
Eastmond has played across the back division for Bath since breaking into their first team and he believes that has been an important experience.
But Eastmond has been identified as a ball-playing inside centre by England and he wants to be pulling the strings in midfield.
"The fact I played in a lot of different positions this year has helped me out more than playing in one position," Eastmond said.
"I imagine myself in the thick of the action and getting my hands on the ball but wherever the coaches see fit for me to play that is okay."
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