Churchill Cup Preview
Cipriani spearheads Saxons attack
June 5, 2009
Danny Cipriani will start at fly-half for the Saxons © Getty Images
England Saxons coach Stuart Lancaster has named three new caps in an otherwise experienced side to kick off their Churchill Cup defence against the Argentina Jaguars on Saturday.
Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson and Leicester duo Dan Cole and Matt Smith make their Saxons bows, while elsewhere Lancaster has been able to name six full internationals in a side that will be captained by Bath lock Stuart Hooper. Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half while in the backs Shane Geraghty, Tom Varndell and Nick Abendanon provide their international experience.
In the pack, Luke Narraway and prop David Flatman both have England honours while Leicester's impressive openside Ben Woods is given the chance to shine in a Saxons shirt.
"It is a great honour for Stuart Hooper to captain his country," said Lancaster. "He is a very experienced leader and he has the full respect of all the players so he was a natural choice for this match. He has some great support from other senior players who have stood up and taken ownership of the team.
"It is also a great opportunity for the younger players like Simpson to move on to the next stage. We have a good balance of experience and youthful talent in our squad and we are looking forward to Saturday. Argentina are a quality side and are a very passionate and proud team, they have had a good two weeks preparation for this match so it is important we focus on our preparation and get the basics right.
"We have talked all week about the standards we want to achieve. The Saxons have a great winning history but we must look to the here and now and that's facing a tough Argentina on Saturday and that is our only focus."
Hooker Agustin Creevy will lead the Jaguars, with Juan Figallo and Stade Francais prop Pedro Ledesma completing the front-row. Mariano Galarza and Carlos Caceres start in the second-row of an inexperienced but powerful pack that is completed by a back-row of Alejandro Campos, Tomas Leonardi and Leonardo Senatore. Leeds prop Juan Gomez takes a place on the bench.
Tomas de Vedia adds his Guinness Premiership experience to the back-three alongside Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga and Francisco Merello while Ignacio Mieres and Martin Landajo start at halfback.
The weekend's other game sees Kieran Crowley's Canada take on tournament newcomers Georgia. Crowley has moved versatile back DTH van der Merwe to inside-centre for the game, while Ander Monro will continue at fly-half following a steady performance against Wales in Vancouver last weekend.
England Saxons: Nick Abendanon (Bath), Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers),Dominic Waldouck (London Wasps), Shane Geraghty (London Irish),Matt Smith (Leicester Tigers), Danny Cipriani (London Wasps), Joe Simpson (London Wasps), David Flatman (Bath), Rob Webber (London Wasps), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Peter Short (Bath), Stuart Hooper ( Bath, capt), Chris Jones (Sale Sharks), Ben Woods (Leicester Tigers), Luke Narraway (Gloucester)
Replacements: Tom Mercey (Saracens), Mark Lambert (Harlequins), Neil Briggs (Sale Sharks), Tom Guest (Harlequins), Phil Dowson (Newcastle Falcons), Micky Young (Newcastle Falcons), Stephen Myler (Northampton Saints)
Argentina Jaguars: Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga, Francisco Merello, Matías Viazzo, Horacio San Martin, Tomás De Vedia, Ignacio Mieres, Martín Landajo, Juan Figallo, Agustín Creevy (c), Pedro Ledesma, Mariano Galarza, Carlos Cáceres, Alejandro Campos Tomás Leonardi, Leonardo Senatore,
Replacements: Juan Gómez, Mauricio Guidone, Tomás Roan, Agustín Guzmán, Francisco Cubelli, Benjamín Urdapilleta, Lucas Barrera Oro.