England team to play South Africa on Saturday

Martin Johnson has named the England side to take on the Springboks on Saturday in the fourth and final Investec International.

The only change from the side that beat Australia is on the bench, where Matt Banahan comes in for Delon Armitage.

England team:
Ben Foden (Northampton)
Mark Cueto (Sale)
Mike Tindall (Gloucester)
Shontayne Hape (Bath)
Chris Ashton (Northampton)
Toby Flood (Leicester)
Ben Youngs (Leicester)

Andrew Sheridan (Sale)
Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Dan Cole (Leicester)
Courtney Lawes (Northampton)
Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
Tom Croft (Leicester)
Lewis Moody (Bath, capt)
Nick Easter (Harlequins)

Steve Thompson (Leeds)
David Wilson (Bath Rugby)
Simon Shaw (Wasps
Hendrie Fourie (Leeds Carnegie)
Danny Care (Harlequins)
Charlie Hodgson (Sale Sharks)
Matt Banahan (Bath Rugby)

Nick Heath brings us the latest from the England camp in Surrey starting with Martin Johnson’s press conference:


Johnson and Ashton audio:


19 thoughts on “England team to play South Africa on Saturday

  1. No real surprises, although interesting that Banahan did enough against Samoa to earn a place on the bench ahead of Armitage.

    Armitage probably a victim of not having enough game time, as he was in fine form for Irish before November…

  2. Hutch, I agree with you, no real surprises in the starting XV but I think our back replacements on the bench look pretty dull/average. Can’t understand why you would drop Armirage for Bananaman.

  3. I agree – the switch of Banahan for Armitage on the bench is the one bone of contention. It just doesn’t smack of an ‘impact bench’ backs-wise. If we’re behind with 20mins to go I would prefer someone with quick hands and feet and some out-and-out gas to be coming onto the field.

  4. Would have preferred Atwood instead of shaw, shaw isnt going to make the WC is he?

    Glad to see Fourie on the bench, hes hard as nails and cant wait to see him line up against the Boks

    I actually prefer Hendrie to Moody, but Fourie doesnt have the leadership that Moody seems to have.

    SA will pose a bigger threat than bith Samoa and Australia as we wont be able to batter them like we did Aus or batter them in the scrum. they can do the wide stuff as well so should be interesting match!

  5. Indeed Justin, and you’ve just described Sinbad!

    Johnno is obviously still experimenting with Banners at centre, and he’ll probably get a decent run out.

    I can see the logic in having him there as cover for centres and wing (and second row), whereas I’m not convinced Armitage is up to it a centre.

  6. Pretty much agree with all this. The oppo is not going to see Banners coming on and think ‘Crikey, here comes a whole new set of problems’. Whereas they might with Armitage with his pace and running lines.

    Other than that, ladies and gentlemen, we appear to have a reasonably settled England team without too many odd selections. When did that last happen?

  7. Banahan has made the bench for the reason of: of all the backs, Tindall is the only one who will not last 80 mins (unless injury occurs), which means that we need someone who can cover centre and wing, which I’m sorry, but Armitage can’t. Whether people like it or not, Banahan had a good game against Samoa and has obviously done enough to deserve his place and fair play to him. I know no one on here likes him, thats fine, but IMO I think everyone should try getting behind him a little bit. Geechs thinks he has something special, so does Johnno – and quite frankly I’ll put my trust in their belief of Banahan rather than all us pundits (lets face it, between them they’ve achieved more in rugby than any of us could ever dream of)

  8. Tommy, that’s a pretty staunch defence of the big man! To be fair, I think some people are over-egging their dislike of Banahan…

    Whilst he isn’t going to light up a game, I can see why he is there. He’s massive for a start, and that tends to suit England. He could also develop into a strong-running, reasonably quick, offloading centre, which would be exciting with Ashton and Foden running off him.

    Johnno is giving him a chance to prove himself, and I respect the decision. He might well take it if he gets on this week.

    Saying all that, I do feel sorry for Armitage, who has basically been dropped for warming the bench and not actually playing. He isn’t a centre though, so Banahan does provide more cover.

  9. Fair points, doesn’t mean we can’t have an opinion based on what we’ve seen though Tommy. Sven Goran Eriksson knows more than me about football but I still reckon I am right in saying that picking a 16 year old novice to go to the World Cup was on balance probably an error.

    See your point about Tindall but in the modern game the bench should be used as a weapon, not something to avoid disturbing the status quo. The backs bench is all like for like replacements who are all just a little bit worse. Yes you should trust your starting team to win the game but at least one impact sub can surely be afforded. Banahan is not that but Armitage, against tired legs, could cause problems. As he is there I will absolutely support Banahan to the ends of the earth but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t think he should be there.

  10. Team picked itself so no quarms there. Although i’m interested in if we would be having this converstaion about banahan is flutey was fit?

  11. Sorry if it sounded like I was trying to say everyone isn’t entilted to their opinions – thats not what I meant, and I apologise if I caused offence. The point I was trying to make is that I honestly feel Banahan has a lot going for him and if 2 of rugbys greats believe in him, then so shall I. If it was my choice, then no I probably wouldn’t have Banahan, but then I definitely wouldn’t have Armitage either. Armitage is a full back, plain and simple. He’s played a few games at centre, but IMO he has never looked comfortable in that position, nor has he playing on the wing. Also, we don’t need full back cover on the bench, as Cueto can cover there if needs to be, but we do need someone to cover the centre mainly and also the wing, and Banahan does fit that bill. I agree that the bench should be used as a weapon and an “impact sub” should be on it, but I personally feel Banahan deserves his shot. Also, IMO it’s not just about now, but trying to find a suitable, long term replacement for Tindall (as I’m guessing he’ll retire straight after the world cup)

  12. You do make a decent case for the big lump. I’m not actually a big fan of Armitage who can be guilty of being a show-pony. Can’t really come up with much of an alternative for the bench other than banging on about Sinbad and frankly I’m boring myself with that one and getting quite a sore forehead from banging it against that particular brick wall.

    Not convinced we should be thinking about succession planning though. This team has achieved nothing but is young. We take care of now and post-World Cup will take care of itself. There won’t be a massive raft of retirements. I’d be surprised if Martin ‘Pragmatic’ Johnson is making decisions based upon anything other than winning the next game.

  13. If we don’t start making plans for succession, all of this is a waste of time IMO. We spent years buidling our world cup winning squad, but had no one to replace those that were retiring after it, hence 9yrs + of absolute crap from England – fielding the likes of Andy Goode, Steve Borthwick, Louis Deacon etc etc. I’m sure Johnno is mainly thinking about securing the next win, but I’ll be surprised if these kind of thoughts haven’t actually crossed his mind. Luckily, this time round, there will only be a few players likely to retire and so shouldn’t disrupt us too badly. My guess for retirement after the RWC is: Moody, Tindall, Shaw, Thompson. The thing we are going to lose most is leadership and experience. Personally I think Meehan and Geech are being very clever in the development of Banahan, not only moving him to 13, but also giving him the captaincy a couple of times so far this season, in order to help him develop leadership skills.

    My personal choices for options at 13 are (in no particular order): JSD, Banahan, Barritt, Sharples, Lowe, Waldouck

  14. Just a thought, if England seem to be playing for wins regardless of the future, shouldn’t we be using the Saxons as the succession planning team? Okay, they won’t play the big SH teams but should be able to push it against virtually anyone else. Of course doing that would totally decimate the club game for certain teams, so it then brings back the Club vs Country debate, and the scheduling of ‘A’ team internationals.

    Back to the team, and the bench is not a ‘weapon’, you pick your best XV to play the opposition against you following your gameplan. And for that purpose the bench is predominantly for injury cover, and sorry but Armitage cannot cover the centres (and nether can Flash, Fodes or Cueto for that matter) so you need a bench player that can cover both the centres and the wings. So as such bananaman is the better choice (and he’ll probably work better with Hape.

  15. Ok – Any one know how I can stream this game live or shortly after it occurs for free? I am in the United States and found several sites that work in the UK (or even Africa) but I can find any sites that have rights to the games and are playing them in North America.

  16. I agree with most people on the topic of Banahan, but he is the most logical sub, being able to replace centre or wing. nobody has mentioned Hipkiss, if we like Tindall, surely we like Hipkiss…

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