England v Samoa, Twickenham, November 20
Easter handed England captaincy
ESPNscrum Staff
November 17, 2010
England No.8 Nick Easter powers through a tackle, England v Australia, Twickenham, London, England, November 13, 2010
Nick Easter will lead England against Samoa © Getty Images

Harlequins No.8 Nick Easter will captain England when they take on Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Martin Johnson has made four changes in the wake of last weekend's thrilling win over Australia, with a balance struck between continuity and experimentation.

Bath wing Matt Banahan starts in the No.13 jersey after several impressive runs in midfield for his club. Johnson is confident that he has the skill-set to make a success of his deployment alongside team-mate Shontayne Hape.

"He's played a number of Test matches on the wing and done very well," Johnson said. "As a young player he has learned what it is to come in and be a Test player. His condition is far better than it has been.

"The physical side is obvious but I think he has skills as well which people maybe underestimate. He's been very, very keen and has practised very well."

Leeds openside Hendre Fourie will make his first Test start in place of regular captain Lewis Moody, who has been rested. Fourie will pack down alongside another new face in Stade Francais flanker James Haskell, who slots in ahead of Leicester's Tom Croft. Croft drops to the bench along with tight-head Dan Cole, who is replaced in the front-row by Bath's David Wilson.

Courtney Lawes and Tom Palmer continue their blossoming second-row partnership while Gloucester's Dave Attwood is poised to win his second cap after being recalled among the replacements.

"The good thing is that we played well in the last game and have done okay in the game before that," Johnson said. "The team is doing well but we want to keep the continuity and we've seen the rewards of that.

"We don't want to break it up too much. The performance [against Australia] didn't come out of the clouds, it was a build-up of what we've been doing for a while. We had a good day, we could have scored more tries and they could have scored more tries. But it's nice as a coach not to be talking about 'if onlys' after a game."

England: B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), M Banahan (Bath), S Hape (Bath), M Cueto (Sale); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); A Sheridan (Sale), D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), C Lawes (Northampton), T Palmer (Stade Francais), J Haskell (Stade Francais), H Fourie (Leeds), N Easter (Harlequins, capt).

Replacements: S Thompson (Leeds), D Cole (Leicester), D Attwood (Gloucester), T Croft (Leicester), D Care (Harlequins), C Hodgson (Sale), D Armitage (London Irish)

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