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Six Nations: Tuilagi back to make a splash for England

The Leicester centre is one of four changes as England gear up to face tournament-favourites, Wales, at Twickenham.

Tuilagi scores England's eighth try against Romania in last years World Cup.
Tuilagi scores England's eighth try against Romania in last years World Cup.
Image: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/Press Association Images

INTERIM COACH, STUART Lancaster, has made four changes ahead of his first game in charge on home soil.

England face Wales on Saturday afternoon with both sides having won both opening fixtures.

Wales have been vastly the more impressive side and have made three changes to the side which beat Scotland.

It is the return of Leicester centre, Manu Tuilagi, to the English set up which could be most pivotal.

Tuilagi is included, in part, due to a finger injury to fly-half, Charlie Hodgson, which failed to properly heal.

In the back-line reshuffle Owen Farrell moves to number 10 and Brad Barritt to inside centre, allowing Tuilagi make his first England appearance since his controversial ferry-jumping antics in Auckland last year. Toby Flood will act as out-half cover from the bench.

The other big change is at scrum half where the out of sorts Ben Youngs is dropped in favour of Lee Dickson. Second row, Tom Palmer, has been released from the squad altogether.

Leicester’s Geoff Parling will earn his first England start as a result and, having recovered from a knee injury, Northampton’s Courtney Lawes takes a seat on the bench.

Llanelli Scarlets number eight, Ben Morgan, will be no stranger to his opponents; he earns his first full cap with the red rose after some impressive showings off the bench.

On a roll

The Welsh, meanwhile, are brimming with confidence and will be aiming to avenge the opening day defeat in last year’s competion which set England en route to the championship.

Warren Gatland is able to welcome back captain, Sam Warburton, and second-row, Alun Wyn Jones. Matthew Rees misses out through injury meaning Ken Owens will win his third cap as one of three changes, all in the pack.

The backline has been unchanged in both Welsh victories so far, though they have had to reshuffle mid-game on both occasions.

Yesterday, Gatland said of Jones’ return:

“He gave us a selection dilemma but it has been a great problem to have and, whilst Ryan Jones is particularly unlucky to miss out on this occasion, this is just that kind of competition for places we have been striving for.”

“Ken Owens has been waiting patiently for his chance,” added the former Ireland coach, “injuries elsewhere have meant he gets his opportunity this weekend we are expecting him to take it.”

Lancaster, who named his side today, has also cited competition for places as an important factor in the England squad’s mentality.

“It’s been a good start with two wins but we’ve got real competition for places and Lee (Dickson) Ben (Morgan) and Geoff (Parling) deserve an opportunity to start this game.”

“It’s great,” added the temporary head coach, “to have Courtney (Lawes) and Toby (Flood), who can also give us options in what I am sure will be a full-on encounter.”

The England and Wales teams in full are as follows:

England: Foden; Ashton, Tuilagi, Barritt, Strettle; Farrell, Dickson: Corbisiero, Hartley, Cole; Botha, Parling; Croft, Robshaw (capt.) Morgan.

Replacements: Webber, Stevens, Lawes, Dowson, Youngs, Flood, Brown.

Wales: Halfpenny; Cuthbert, Davies, Roberts, North; Priestland, Phillips: Jenkins, Owens, A Jones; A W Jones, Evans; Lydiate, Warburton (capt.) Faletau.

Replacements: Hibbard, James, R Jones, Tipuric, Williams, Hook, Williams.

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Sean Farrell

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