Tuesday 12 December 2017

Johnson rebuffs RFU for 'settling' on English goals

ENGLAND: Martin Johnson has refused to settle for the target of two wins from England's four Investec autumn internationals that was set by RFU chief executive John Steele.

England open their campaign against New Zealand at Twickenham a week on Saturday, followed by appointments against Australia, Samoa and South Africa.

Johnson said: "You can't start settling for that. We go into every game putting everything into winning that match and believing we are capable of doing it.

"You want to win every game you play. I would never give us the opt-out of saying 'we are learning'. We prepare for every game as if it is the most important game in the world."

Wales: Boss Warren Gatland could receive some overdue good news on the injury front before next week's autumn Test series opener against Australia in Cardiff.

Gatland has already lost three British and Irish Lions -- Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny and Ryan Jones -- from the Millennium Stadium clash on November 6.

Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies, meanwhile, suffered an ankle injury during training yesterday and could struggle to make the Wallabies tie.

Davies was widely expected to fill one of the centre positions against Australia.

"Jon Davies has gone down with an injury in training," said Gatland.

"It limits our midfield options a little bit. But you can't dwell on it - you have got to put it behind you."

France: Coach Marc Lievremont named three uncapped players in his squad for the November tests.

Fullback Clement Poitrenaud, centre Mathieu Bastareaud and wingers Vincent Clerc and Cedric Heymans were among established players left out for the home matches against Fiji, Argentina and Australia.

Uncapped winger Yoann Huguet and centre Fabrice Estebanez were included with winger Julien Arias.

Perpignan loosehead prop Jerome Schuster and Castres tighthead Luc Ducalcon were named along with forward Sebastien Chabal who was switched from lock to number eight.

Lievremont extended his squad to 31 players because hooker Dimitri Szarzewski has been cited for head-butting during a Top 14 game and could face a ban.

New Zealand: Fly-half Dan Carter returns to the New Zealand side for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia but there is no place in Graham Henry's 22-man squad for Sonny Bill Williams.

Carter has recovered from recent ankle surgery to line up at number 10 against the Wallabies in Hong Kong .

Australia: Prop Ben Alexander and winger Drew Mitchell have recovered from injury in time for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test against New Zealand in Hong Kong.

Alexander is fit again after he sustained a knee injury in the win over Fiji in June while Mitchell has overcome a hamstring strain in the only two changes to the Wallabies team from the side that lost by one-point to New Zealand last month.

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