Slick Stu to ease Andy’s pain
15 Mar 2006
England coach Andy Robinson has looked to South African-born Stuart Abbott, among others, to give England that winning feeling again in Saturday’s Six Nations final round match against Ireland.
England, humiliated by France and beaten by Scotland, can not win the tournament, but they can end on a high and Robinson has shown no mercy to those who flopped in Paris.
He has booted six of the squad and opted for more guile in the midfield, where former Western Province, Stormers and SA under 23 midfielder Abbott replaces veteran Mike Tindall.
Another South African, front rower Matt Stevens, will start at tighthead.
Fullback Josh Lewsey, Tindall, scrumhalf Matt Dawson, hooker Steve Thompson, prop Julian White and lock Danny Grewcock – all members of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning squad – have been shown the door.
Lewsey does not make the squad, but Robinson has still included the others in the match 22.
Flyhalf Charlie Hodgson is injured.
“I felt it was right to reward players who have been playing well and to look at a number of players and give them the opportunity, particularly at home,” Robinson said. “Stuart gives us that extra bit of creativity, I think he’s only ever had one game at home for England and it’s right that he’s given that opportunity to perform.
“There were some distraught people in the squad and rightly so. When you lose a couple of games, you expect it to happen. It’s human nature but it doesn’t affect my resolve, it strengthens it. I have faith in myself and what we are trying to achieve. We are all passionate about England and everyone’s focus is on Ireland and improving hugely on the performance we had last week.”
ENGLAND: 15-Tom Voyce; 14-Mark Cueto, 13-Jamie Noon, 12-Stuart Abbott, 11-Ben Cohen; 10-Andy Goode, 9-Harry Ellis; 8-Martin Corry (captain), 7-Lewis Moody, 6-Joe Worsley, 5-Simon Shaw, 4-Steve Borthwick, 3-Matt Stevens, 2-Lee Mears, 1-Andrew Sheridan. Subs: 16-Steve Thompson, 17-Julian White, 18-Danny Grewcock, 19-Lawrence Dallaglio, 20-Matt Dawson, 21-Dave Walder, 22-Mike Tindall.