Ashton names Farrell and Hipkiss in the centres against France

Brian Ashton has repeatedly indicated his intention to field his first-choice XV for the final match in the warm-up series against France in Marseilles.  If there were critics of Andy Farrell’s inclusion in the 30-man World Cup squad yesterday, there will be even more now that he has been selected in the ‘first-choice’ team.

However, the England head coach has said he is still testing combinations as it would be unfair to judge a number of players based on the Wales debacle alone.  Last week’s captain Mike Catt will be relieved to hear this news, as he does not feature in the 22.

Tom Rees makes his first appearance of the series at openside, with Martin Corry on the blindside and four-try hero Nick Easter at Number 8.

Perry Freshwater is given a chance to impress after Andrew Sheridan was hospitalised following an insect bite, whilst George Chuter also starts ahead of Mark Regan.

Mark Cueto will start at full-back, with World Cup winners Josh Lewsey and Jason Robinson on the wings – this could well be the first choice combination at the back.

England will face a stern test of their credentials away from home against France, in front of a notoriously hostile French crowd.  After last week’s narrow defeat, they will surely be looking for a victory to send them into the World Cup on the back of a positive result.

England team to play France in Marseille on Saturday

M Cueto (Sale Sharks); J Lewsey (Wasps), D Hipkiss (Leicester), A Farrell Saracens), J Robinson (unattached); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), S Perry (Bristol); P Freshwater (Perpignan), G Chuter (Leicester), P Vickery (Wasps, capt), S Shaw (Wasps), S Borthwick (Bath), M Corry (Leicester), T Rees (Wasps), N Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath), M Stevens (Bath), J Worsley (Wasps), L Dallaglio (Wasps), A Gomarsall (Harlequins), O Barkley (Bath), P Sackey (Wasps).

One thought on “Ashton names Farrell and Hipkiss in the centres against France

  1. At last we have what we’ve been waiting for – an insight into Ashton’s mind as to his possible starting 15. I have to say I like the look of the backs, the key being how the centre-pairing of Farrell/Hipkiss fares against tough opposition. Lewsey must be thanking his lucky stars that Strettle has been forced out, but with a competent display in the first game against the French it is no more than he deserves.

    I think the forwards are looking good and meaty, although think Ben Kay had a stormer against the French at Twickers so deserves a place. However, the problem is still the back row. Back rows more often than not win games, dominating possession and controlling the break-down. I don’t see the reasoning in continuing to perservere in Corry and find a place for him in the team – he’s a work horse and a very good club player, but I think he lacks any influence in the international game. Like Ashton says, the performance of Easter at 8 against tough opposition will be very interesting to watch, whilst at last we can see the impact of the awesome Tom Rees.

    Overall – qualified excitement to see what this team can do.

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