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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Lancaster defends front-row selection

ENGLAND coach Stuart Lancaster has defended his decision to start with a front-row of Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley and David Wilson for England's international against Argentina at Twickenham tomorrow.

England v Argentina, Live Sky Sports 2 (KO 2.30)

Marler replaces loosehead Mako Vunipola, who started the 20-13 win over Australia but is now sidelined by a knee ligament strain, while Alex Corbisiero, who demolished the Wallabies' set-piece when playing for the British and Irish Lions last summer, returns to the 23 but starts on the bench after overcoming a knee problem.

Asked if picking Wilson ahead of Dan Cole was a gamble, Lancaster replied: "No, I don't think so at all. He was outstanding in Argentina for us and his good form has continued with Bath this season. I'm sure Dan Cole will play a big role in the second half.

"Joe Marler was excellent off the bench against Australia and merits his opportunity, as does David Wilson, who has been pushing hard for selection."

Hartley comes in at hooker for Tom Youngs, whose wife gave birth yesterday morning.

Lancaster is confident England have the front-row firepower to match the Pumas, who pride themselves on their scrummaging prowess.

"It is a big part of their game and it will be a great challenge but we've got a very good scrum ourselves and a very good bench. It's nice to have those three (Youngs, Cole and Corbisiero) on the bench to come on," he said.

 

Doubt

The fourth and final change, and the only adjustment to the back line, sees Ben Foden named on the left wing after Marland Yarde and Christian Wade were ruled out through injury. Yarde has a hip complaint and Wade has a hamstring injury.

Lancaster also revealed that there was a doubt over the fitness of scrum-half Ben Youngs, who came on for Lee Dickson against Australia.

"Ben Youngs didn't train. He'll need a fitness test in the morning. We've got Danny Care on standby," he said.

Wade's injury is an untimely one for him but Lancaster is hopeful he can make a swift return to fitness.

"It is a grade-one (tear) so he could be right by Sunday or Monday and there is a good chance he could be ready for the New Zealand match."

ENGLAND: M Brown; C Ashton, J Tomkins, B Twelvetrees, B Foden, O Farrell, L Dickson; J Marler, D Hartley, D Wilson, J Launchbury, C Lawes, T Wood, C Robshaw, B Vunipola.

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