South Africa v England, Durban
Johnson and Marler handed debuts
ESPN Staff
June 7, 2012
Joe Marler prepares to take the hit in training, Durban, South Africa, June 7, 2012
Harlequins' Joe Marler will start for England against South Africa © Getty Images

England boss Stuart Lancaster has handed debuts to Tom Johnson and Joe Marler ahead of their first Test with the Springboks in Durban on Saturday.

Johnson started for England against the Barbarians a fortnight ago in the uncapped match while Marler was a part of the squad for the 2012 Six Nations but failed to get any game time. With injuries in the back-row, Lancaster has given Johnson the nod at blindside while Marler steps into Alex Corbisiero's shoes who is struggling with a bicep injury.

Elsewhere in the England side, the eye-catching selection is Ben Foden on the left wing. Harlequins' Mike Brown shifts to fullback with Foden partnering now ex-Saints team-mate Chris Ashton on the flanks with David Strettle struggling with injury. It is the first time Foden has started for England in that position in a Test match, with 26 of his 27 caps coming at fullback, but he did start for them against the Barbarians on the flank back in 2009.

"Tom and Joe have had great seasons at their clubs and have worked really hard to get this chance, both are in great form and have really impressed in training," Lancaster said. "Equally, Mike Brown has been outstanding for Harlequins.

"By moving Ben to the wing we retain his strike power and aerial skills and can utilise not only Mike's attacking and defensive assets, but we can also call on his left-footed kicking game. Selection is competitive in lots of positions, particularly at scrum-half. We are really pleased with Ben's form and he knows our systems well."

Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi form the centre partnership as they did in England's final match of the 2012 Six Nations with Owen Farrell taking the fly-half reins alongside Leicester's Ben Youngs. Lee Dickson will have to be content with a spot on the bench while there is no place in the side for Harlequins' Danny Care who missed the Six Nations due to off-field ill-discipline. Lancaster did reveal, however, that Care will get his chance in the mid-week match against the SA Barbarians.

London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph will make his Test bow for England if he gets his opportunity from the bench while injury doubt Toby Flood also takes his place among the replacements.

England team:
Mike Brown, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Ben Foden, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Mouritz Botha, Tom Johnson, Chris Robshaw (c), Ben Morgan

Replacements: Lee Mears, Paul Doran Jones, Tom Palmer, Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson, Toby Flood, Jonathan Joseph

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Australian GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Darts - Premier League
    Golf - Houston Open
    Snooker - China Open
    Tennis - Miami Open