English Rugby
Easter to lead England against Barbarians
May 26, 2010
England No.8 Nick Easter, England training session, Pennyhill Park Hotel, Bagshot, England, May 26, 2010
Harlequins' Nick Easter will lead England in the non-Test match against the Barbarians on Sunday © Getty Images

Harlequins No.8 Nick Easter will lead England against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.

Easter, one of 10 survivors from the squad that tasted defeat in England's last outing against France in the Six Nations, takes over from Lewis Moody, who is on duty with Leicester Tigers against Saracens in Saturday's Guinness Premiership Final. Easter leads a side featuring three uncapped players in the starting XV - Gloucester lock Dave Attwood, Newcastle prop Jon Golding and Bath centre Shontayne Hape - along with another on the bench in the form of Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson.

In the absence of Toby Flood and Jonny Wilkinson for the non-cap international, Sale fly-half Charlie Hodgson has been given the chance to re-launch an England career that hit the buffers on the ill-fated 2008 tour to New Zealand. Saracens-bound winger David Strettle also returns to the senior England team for the first time since the 2008 tour, while Olly Barkley is back on the bench. Both played their last Test, alongside Hodgson, in Auckland 2008.

Johnson has also confirmed that Moody will captain the full 44-man squad for the five-match tour to Australia and New Zealand that will feature two Tests against the Wallabies and two midweek matches against the Australian Barbarians before finishing up against the New Zealand Maori.

"Nick will be captain on Sunday and Lewis Moody will captain the tour party to Australia," said Johnson. "We have picked a strong team. The Leicester boys play on Saturday but some guys haven't played since May 8 and some guys have had a long season - (Northampton winger) Chris Ashton has probably played the most games so it was simple to leave him out this week.

"It is exciting to see Jon Golding playing for England, same as Dave Attwood at four and Shontayne who was around our squad in the Six Nations but didn't get a chance, for whatever reason. The whole point of taking an extended squad on tour was to give them rugby at a high level

"Dave Strettle is a guy who has been around the squad but he got injured then ill so he couldn't tour last year. It is good to see him back. The same with Olly, who has had his injury problems, but his form at the end brought him right back into contention. Charlie has been around Test level for a number of years."

There was also good news for England with fly-half Jonny Wilkinson cleared to tour as planned after assessment of the injury he picked up in Toulon's European Challenge Cup Final defeat to Cardiff Blues on Sunday.

A statement on the Toulon website read, "Jonny Wilkinson will have to observe at least two weeks without contact and should be able to play in England's first Test against Australia on June 12 in Perth."

A further statement from the RFU said, "Jonny Wilkinson been reviewed by his club medical team and an x-ray has shown there is no break to his rib but there is soft tissue damage. He will meet up with the England squad on Saturday as scheduled after receiving further treatment from his club. He will then be assessed and reviewed by the England medical team before agreeing a course of treatment and rehabilitation.

"It is expected that Wilkinson will travel with the Senior England EPS to Australia on Monday."

England team to play the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday, May 30, kick-off 5pm:

B Foden (Northampton); M Cueto (Sale Sharks), M Tindall (Gloucester), S Hape (Bath), D Strettle (Harlequins); C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), D Care (Harlequins); J Golding (Newcastle), S Thompson (Brive), P Doran-Jones (Gloucester), D Attwood (Gloucester), T Palmer (Stade Francais), J Haskell (Stade Francais), S Armitage (London Irish), N Easter (Harlequins, capt).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath), T Payne (Wasps), D Ward-Smith (Wasps), J Worsley (Wasps), J Simpson (Wasps), O Barkley (Bath), M Tait (Sale Sharks).

© Scrum.com

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