New Zealand v England: Stuart Lancaster set to ring the changes as half-back pair Owen Farrell and Danny Care hit by injuries ahead of third Test
Farrell will definitely miss out with Freddie Burns deputising while Care could be replaced by either Ben Youngs or Lee Dickson
Wednesday 18 June 2014
England will field new half-backs for Saturday's final Test against New Zealand and are also considering an overhaul of their three-quarter line.
The tourists' quest for only a third victory over the All Blacks on Kiwi soil as consolation for their series defeat has been hit by injuries to Owen Farrell and Danny Care.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster, who names his team tonight, has already confirmed that Freddie Burns will start at fly-half after Farrell was ruled out with a knee injury.
Care's shoulder injury places him in serious doubt for the Waikato Stadium with Lancaster facing a choice between Lee Dickson and Ben Youngs at scrum-half.
England are unlikely to persevere with the experiment of playing Manu Tuilagi on the wing after the positional switch limited his attacking threat in the 28-27 defeat in Dunedin.
Instead, Tuilagi could be restored at outside centre with Chris Ashton coming on to the right wing.
Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell have recovered from ankle injuries and are in contention for the climax to the series, but may lose out to the Kyle Eastmond-Tuilagi partnership used in Auckland.
Twelvetrees started well at the Forsyth Barr Stadium only to make some glaring errors in the second half and Burrell was quiet, so Eastmond may be rewarded for his strong performance in the first Test.
Hooker Dylan Hartley, lock Courtney Lawes and number eight Billy Vunipola appear set for starts to freshen up the pack with Rob Webber, Joe Launcbury and Ben Morgan making way.
Danny Cipriani, who started the 38-7 win over the Crusaders, is expected to confirm his climb up the pecking order by being preferred ahead of Stephen Myler by offering specialist fly-half cover from the bench.
The 26-year-old has been successfully reintegrated into the England squad after a six-year exile, winning his eighth cap in the first Test against the All Blacks and now close to claiming a ninth.
"I've learnt an awful lot from the coaches and I played with a confidence against the Crusaders that I can learn from," Cipriani said.
"The confidence is what the coaches are instilling in us and that's put me in good stead for next season and to have a big pre-season.
"England are developing something great, just with the DNA and culture that's been provided."
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