Tom Youngs to make England debut against Fiji


Leicester hooker Tom Youngs will make his Test debut against Fiji on Saturday after being confirmed in one of the most inexperienced England sides of the professional era.

Youngs will take over the hooking duties from Dylan Hartley, who has been sidelined with a knee injury which threatens to keep him out of England's entire QBE autumn international series.

Ugo Monye will make his England comeback on the left wing in place of the injured Ben Foden, while Charlie Sharples deputiseS for the suspended Chris Ashton on the right wing.

Alex Goode continues at full-back while Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi link up in a hard-hitting centre partnership, with Toby Flood and Danny Care the half-backs.

There are a total of five changes from the 14-14 draw with South Africa in the summer, with Chris Robshaw back to captain the side after missing that Test with a broken hand.

Tom Johnson continues at blindside flanker after making his Test debut on the summer tour, while Tom Wood returns to the England fold after 14 injury-plagued months with a place on the bench.

The uncapped pair of Saracens prop Mako Vunipola and Wasps lock Joe Launchbury are primed to make their Test debuts off the bench.

Flood is the most experienced player in the England side with 50 caps. The combined total of England's starting line-up is just 215.

Flood (50), Care (33), Tom Palmer (40) and Dan Cole (31) account for 154 of those caps between them. Eight of England's starting line-up count their caps in single figures. Youngs is uncapped.

To put that in context, when England fielded three debutants in their starting line-up against Scotland it was still a more experienced side than this one, with a combined total of 236 caps.

"Congratulations to Tom Youngs, who has made a great transition from centre to hooker in a short period and deserves his chance, as do Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola, who we are pleased to be able to include in the squad," said head coach Stuart Lancaster.

The last time England played a Test at Twickenham, they completed a resounding victory over Ireland to finish second in the RBS 6 Nations.

This autumn, England return home to face Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand on successive Saturdays knowing they must retain fourth place in the rankings to be top seeds at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The pool draw for the tournament takes place in London on December 4.

Lancaster said: "This QBE International series will be a real marker of where we are as a squad. We are playing four back to back matches in four weeks against the top teams in the world and we are confident we can rise to the challenge. The foundations are in place, now it's time for us to execute and deliver.

"Fiji is a good first Test for us and we can't wait to play back at Twickenham. The atmosphere against Ireland back in March was superb and you can't underestimate what it means to the players to have 82,000 people and the nation behind them."

Tom and Ben Youngs, who is on the bench as back-up for Care, could become the first brothers to play together for England since Delon and Steffon Armitage in 2009.

Tom Youngs' selection may have been predicated by Hartley's injury but it completes a remarkable rise for the 25-year-old, who has made just seven Aviva Premiership starts at hooker.

Youngs played England age-group rugby as a hard-hitting centre and he was on the fringes of the Leicester side when Tigers director of rugby Heyneke Meyer suggested he should become a hooker.

The conversation occurred after Youngs had been involved in a mass brawl while captaining the Leicester second team against Saracens.

That was three years ago. Youngs went out on loan to Nottingham to learn his new trade and caught the eye of England's forwards coach Graham Rowntree.

Youngs toured with England in the summer, playing two midweek matches, before returning to Leicester and establishing himself as the Tigers' first-choice hooker.

There are still question marks over his throwing but Rowntree is convinced Youngs has the makings of a top-class international player.

"You can't expect Tom to be the finished article from day one but the signs are he is going to be a very, very good player going forward," Rowntree said.

"You have to learn at the coal face and he is learning quickly.

"He has not had it all his own way in terms of the line-out.

"What impresses me is how he has recovered from setbacks within games. He is a strong character and will get stronger and stronger.

"You have to be able to throw and scrummage under pressure. The things he brings outside that, the real dynamic stuff, sets him ahead of other people. I have every confidence in him."

England team for the QBE international against Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday, November 10 (kick-off 2.30pm):

A Goode (Saracens); C Sharples (Gloucester), M Tuilagi (Leicester), B Barritt (Saracens), U Monye (Harlequins); T Flood (Leicester), D Care (Harlequins); J Marler (Harlequins), T Youngs (Leicester), D Cole (Leicester), T Palmer (Wasps), G Parling (Leicester), T Johnson (Exeter), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), T Waldrom (Leicester).

Replacements: D Paice (London Irish), D Wilson (Bath), M Vunipola (Saracens), J Launchbury (Wasps), T Wood (Northampton), B Youngs (Leicester), O Farrell (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins).


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific