Owen Farrell dropped by England for second Test against South Africa
Thursday 14 June 2012
England have dropped fly-half Owen Farrell for Saturday's second Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.
After defeat in the first Test in Durban last weekend, head coach Stuart Lancaster has revamped his backs by recalling Toby Flood in an attempt to level the three-match series.
Flood's inclusion at number 10 is one of three personnel changes for the clash at Coca-Cola Park with centre Jonathan Joseph being handed his first start and wing David Strettle returning.
Joseph comes in at outside centre with Manu Tuilagi moving inside to take over from the injured Brad Barritt.
Strettle plays on the left wing with Ben Foden reverting to his preferred position of full-back following the loss of Mike Brown for the rest of the series with a thumb injury.
Farrell, who was unconvincing in Durban despite kicking four penalties, must make do with a place on the bench.
Saracens full-back Alex Goode, who was withdrawn at half-time in the midweek match against the Southern Barbarians, is also handed a place among the replacements.
There are no changes in the forwards but prop Alex Corbisiero, fit again after biceps and knee problems, is a replacement.
The decision to axe Farrell, Lancaster's only unforced changed, is the most eye-catching after the 20-year-old excelled in the RBS 6 Nations earlier this year.
Yet while England showed spirit and endeavour in their narrow 22-17 first Test loss, it was felt the team lacked spark.
Flood, who missed the end of the domestic season through injury, brought added impetus from the bench and he will now have the chance to do that from the start.
The 26-year-old will win his 49th cap and be reunited with his Leicester team-mate Ben Youngs in the halves.
Lancaster said: "Owen has had a fantastic season and I am sure he will make a significant impact from the bench.
"However, Toby has waited patiently for his opportunity and the time is right to allow him the chance to demonstrate his experience and skills in what will be a very tough challenge."
Joseph, 21, shone in a brief cameo at Kings Park and gets his opportunity as Barritt recovers from surgery to repair a lacerated eyeball.
Brown's injury ends Lancaster's experiment of playing Foden on the wing but his back-three partnership with Strettle, now recovered from a calf strain, and Chris Ashton was solid in the Six Nations.
Lancaster said: "I am delighted for JJ. He has trained very well and showed against the Barbarians and in his short time on the field in the first Test that he is ready to make the step to international rugby.
"To have two 21-year-old centres is exciting and we are looking forward to seeing this combination in action."
The selections of Flood and Joseph are bold ones and hooker Dylan Hartley feels England must take the game to the Springboks this weekend.
Hartley said: "Last week we didn't play as much as we would have liked to and in the second half we defended for a lot of it.
"You can't really win games defending all the time.
"We need to take our chances. We can't keep coming out here and playing safe all the time, although you can't take too many risks.
"It is going to be another tough challenge in the heights of Johannesburg but I think we are all looking forward to it."
England team to face South Africa in second Test at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg, on Saturday, June 16:
B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), J Joseph (London Irish), M Tuilagi (Leicester), D Strettle (Saracens); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), M Botha (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester), T Johnson (Exeter), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Scarlets).
Replacements: L Mears (Bath), A Corbisiero (London Irish), T Palmer (Stade Francais), P Dowson (Northampton), L Dickson (Northampton), O Farrell (Saracens), A Goode (Saracens).
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