Young England ready to face Barbarians test

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There were those who did not want this match after one of the most demanding seasons. But for those involved in tomorrow's England vs Barbarians fixture at Twickenham, ancient and modern, it represents an important opportunity.

There were those who did not want this match after one of the most demanding seasons. But for those involved in tomorrow's England vs Barbarians fixture at Twickenham, ancient and modern, it represents an important opportunity.

Firstly it marks the end of two great careers. Jason Leonard, the world's most capped player with 114 appearances at prop for England, and the South African second row Mark Andrews, who won 77 Springbok caps, have chosen this game in which to bow out on the grandest stage.

Behind those two model professionals are the modern professionals, the thrusting youngsters who are determined to ignore the Barbarian tradition, which stretches back into the dark ages of the amateur game, of playing exhibition rugby. Hugh Vyvyan, who captains Clive Woodward's hopefuls, said: "This is a huge opportunity for all of the players to show what they're made of. It's a very young squad and all of us are out to show what we can do on the big stage."

Paul Sackey, a Barbarian until Thursday, when he was pulled out of the invitation squad and drafted into the England ranks because of injuries, echoed that sentiment. He insists England will be looking to adopt their usual game plan, leaving the fancy stuff to the traditionally cavalier opposition.

"We're not going to get into Barbarians style. We won't be throwing the ball around, although if there's a gap it's going to get taken," said the London Irish winger. "We'll just try to play in a structured way. We'll go through the phases and do what we're supposed to do."

Nice idea, providing the opposition allow them to do so. The chances are, though, that this Barbarian side, which bristles with luminaries and legends and is captained by the former All Black hooker and skipper Anton Oliver, won't.

Oliver leads a cosmopolitan collection, containing the likes of fellow New Zealand internationals Taine Randell and Bruce Reihana.

If Thomas Castaignède fails a late fitness test, his place at full-back will go to the Wallaby Matt Burke. The side also has five former or current international captains, including Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll, and boasts 688 caps in total.

It is a tough call for England, and Vyvyan, who will lead England A in the Churchill Cup in North America this summer, said: "You only have to look at the Barbarians squad to realise it's going to be a huge challenge for us. They are a great side but that just makes it even more exciting. We'll be playing against some of the biggest names around, but we really want to test ourselves against that calibre of player."

He just has to hope that ancient and modern are singing from the same hymn sheet, along with more than 72,000 fans at Twickenham.

ENGLAND: M Horak (London Irish); P Sackey (London Irish), J Noon (Newcastle), K Sorrell (Saracens), M Garvey (Gloucester); D Walder (Newcastle), N Walshe (Sale Sharks); M Worsley (Harlequins), M Regan (Leeds), R Morris (Northampton), M Cornwell (Gloucester), A Brown (Gloucester), D Hyde (Leeds), A Hazell (Gloucester), H Vyvyan (Newcastle, capt). Replacements: C Fortey (Gloucester), J Dawson (Harlequins), P Buxton (Gloucester), D Fox (Northampton), H Charlton (Newcastle), T May (Newcastle), D Scarbrough (Leeds).

BARBARIANS: T Castaignède (Saracens & France); S Horgan (Leinster & Ireland), B O'Driscoll (Leinster & Ireland), N Grey (NSW Waratahs & Australia), B Reihana (Northampton & New Zealand); D Humphreys (Ulster & Ireland), M Robinson (Northampton & New Zealand); J Leonard (Harlequins & England), A Oliver (Otago Highlanders & New Zealand, capt), C Visagie (Saracens & South Africa) M O'Kelly (Leinster & Ireland), M Andrews (Newcastle Falcons & South Africa), O Finegan (ACT Brumbies & Australia), A Vos (Harlequins & South Africa), T Randell (Saracens & New Zealand). Replacements: M Sexton (Ulster), G Feek (Auckland Blues & New Zealand), O Magne (Montferrand & France), B Skinstad (Newport Gwent Dragons & South Africa), N De Kock (Western Stormers & South Africa), D Traille (Pau & France), M Burke (NSW Waratahs & Australia).

Referee: N Whitehouse (Wales).

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