Rugby Union: England head coach Stuart Lancaster revealed that his inexperienced side can’t wait to take to the field at Twickenham to face Fiji on Saturday.
Injuries have forced Lancaster to name a starting line-up that boasts just 215 international caps between them, but he feels that the newcomers in his squad will be able to handle the challenge with the help of England’s passionate home support.
He said: “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.
“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.”
One of the most significant changes to the side announced yesterday will see Leicester hooker Tom Youngs make his Test debut by taking over hooking duties from Dylan Hartley, who has a knee problem.
Youngs’s 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 Premiership starts at hooker.
England’s forwards coach Graham Rowntree said: “What impresses me is how he has recovered from setbacks within games.
“He is a strong character and will get stronger and stronger.”
Ugo Monye will make his comeback on the left wing in place of the injured Ben Foden, while Charlie Sharples deputises for the suspended Chris Ashton on the right.
Alex Goode continues at full-back while Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi link up in a hard-hitting centre partnership, with Toby Flood — the most experienced player in the squad with 50 caps — and Danny Care the half-backs.
Finally the uncapped pair of prop Mako Vunipola (Saracens) and lock Joe Launchbury (Wasps) are primed to make their Test debuts off the bench.