Martin Johnson names strong England side

England manager Martin Johnson has reverted to his strongest line-up for Saturday's Investec Test against South Africa.

After making four changes for last week's 26-13 win against Samoa, Johnson has named the same starting XV that laid the foundations for England's record victory over Australia.



Lewis Moody returns to captain the team from openside flanker and Mike Tindall reclaims his place at outside centre from Matt Banahan, who has been included on the bench.



The Leicester pair of flanker Tom Croft and tighthead prop Dan Cole also return to the starting team as England look to end an encouraging autumn series with victory over the world champions.



The only change to the 22-man squad from the 35-18 victory over the Wallabies is the inclusion of Banahan for Delon Armitage among the replacements.



Hendre Fourie has held off the challenge from James Haskell to provide the back row cover in what will be a special occasion for the South Africa-born flanker.



Johnson has kept changes to a minimum since the summer tour of Australia, when the likes of Cole, Courtney Lawes, Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs announced their arrival on the Test scene.



England will have only used 24 players in their autumn Tests against the Tri Nations giants New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.



On the back of that consistency of selection - helped by some good fortune on the injury front - England have risen to fourth in the International Rugby Board's world rankings.



Conversely, the Springboks, who finished last in the Tri Nations, head into Saturday's game under increasing pressure following last week's 21-17 defeat to Scotland.

Johnson is relishing the different challenge presented by the world champions.

"They are coming off a loss but we are playing a very good team and we will have to play at a very high level," he told Sky Sports News.



"It is another week and another challenge and we're looking forward to a full-blooded Test match.



"This (South Africa) team has been around the block. There are a lot of caps, experience and pride in there.



"(Victor) Matfield, (Bakkies) Botha and (Juan) Smith are the premier group that has been around for a few years now.



"Last week we were pretty pleased with the way we handled the game but it will be a different challenge again on Saturday.



"Some of our guys have not played South Africa in a Test match before and we are preparing them for what it is like."



Johnson is pleased that England managed victories against Australia and Samoa that were achieved in two contrasting matches.



"You will not always get a Test like England against Australia. Last week was far more stop-start.



"They (Samoa) took the tempo out of the game and you have to handle that. We scored the points and put the game away."



On Armitage missing out on a chance to face the Springboks, Johnson said: "Delon is very much part of our squad going forwards into next year and the World Cup.



"The back three guys have played very well and it is a very competitive backline to get into which is a positive sign for us in terms of where we are as a team.



"He needs to go back to his club, continue his good form and take his chance when it comes."





England team to play South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, November 27; kick-off 2.30pm:

B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), M Tindall (Gloucester), S Hape (Bath), M Cueto (Sale); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); A Sheridan (Sale), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), C Lawes (Northampton), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Croft (Leicester), L Moody (Bath, capt), N Easter (Harlequins).



Replacements: S Thompson (Leeds), D Wilson (Bath), S Shaw (Wasps), H Fourie (Leeds), D Care (Harlequins), C Hodgson (Sale), M Banahan (Bath).

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