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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Wilkinson leads battered England
Jonny Wilkinson fires out a pass during England training on Friday
Wilkinson came off injured in the first Test thrashing last weekend

Saturday, 2 June
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 1400 BST
Listen: BBC Radio Five Live and this website (UK users only)

Jonny Wilkinson will captain England in the second Test against South Africa on Saturday after Jason Robinson was ruled out with a knee injury.

Saracens number eight Ben Skirving will win his first cap as a depleted England make seven changes, one positional, with Nick Easter moving to blind-side.

Jamie Noon, Dan Scarbrough, Matt Stevens, Roy Winters and Magnus Lund all come into the starting line-up.

Full-back Mike Brown is deemed fit to play, with Nick Abendanon on the bench.

Brown, who has been suffering from a stomach virus, had been ruled out by England coach Brian Ashton 48 hours before finalising the team, while 20-year-old Abendanon only flew out on Wednesday.

England, who were hammered 58-10 in the first Test, arrived in South Africa missing about 35 players because of club commitments and injury and have been weakened still further by illness and yet more injuries.

They have lost Andy Farrell, James Simpson-Daniel and Andy Hazell this week to add to previous casualties Nick Wood, Iain Balshaw and David Strettle.

Ben Skirving trains with England
Saracens number eight Skirving wins his first cap for England
Stevens, like Scarbrough and Abendanon a late call-up to the squad, replaces Stuart Turner at tight-head prop, while Bristol lock Winters displaces Turner's Sale team-mate Dean Schofield in the second row.

Easter moves from number eight to blind-side in place of a third Sale player, Chris Jones, enabling Skirving to win his first cap.

There is better news for a fourth Sale man as Lund starts at open-side flanker in place of the injured Andy Hazell.

Robinson's absence sees Saracens' back Scarbrough win his first cap for almost four years, while Newcastle's Noon, normally a centre, will bring his physicality to the other wing.

Wilkinson was appointed captain by former coach Andy Robinson but never actually led the team during Robinson's reign because of a series of injuries, his only previous Test as captain coming against Italy in 2003.

"It was always going to be Jonny to replace Jason Robinson as captain," Ashton explained.

"He has led the side before, and he plays in a position where a lot of the game depends on him, so it seemed a logical choice.

We plan to go out there and stand up to the Springboks

Jonny Wilkinson
"Jonny ran the team session today (Friday), and he was saying all the right things. He is not a tub-thumping guy - he just talks about the key issues."

England are facing the prospect of an eighth successive away defeat and have not won in the southern hemisphere since the 2003 World Cup final.

But Wilkinson insisted it was still a "massive privilege and honour" to be given the captaincy for a second time in his Test career.

"It doesn't change my approach to things," he said.

"It has been an interesting couple of weeks, which makes it even more of a challenge. A lot of players have had to step up to the mark, and everyone knows what is required of them.

We are better prepared this week

England coach Brian Ashton
"There is a genuine belief we are going somewhere, and the feeling is a hugely positive one.

"This game is a big one to put into practice what we have been doing on the training field and then take it with us into our World Cup training camp. We plan to go out there and stand up to it."

Ashton, meanwhile, praised the squad's resilience in the face of the adversity they have encountered in the past fortnight.

"In terms of a course in crisis management for me, I couldn't have gone anywhere better," Ashton added.

"The players have been remarkably positive, and we are better prepared this week because we actually played a Test match last week.

"But it is going to be a big ask for all the players from numbers one to 22."

South Africa: Montgomery; A Ndungane, Olivier, De Villiers, Habana; James, Januarie; Steenkamp, Smit (capt), Van der Linde, Botha, Matfield, Burger, Smith, Spies.
Replacements: Carstens, Botha, Muller, Skinstad, Pienaar, Steyn, Willemse.

England: M Brown; Noon, Tait, Flood, Scarbrough; Wilkinson (capt), Gomarsall; Yates, Regan, Stevens, Winters, A Brown, Easter, Lund, Skirving.
Replacements: Titterrell, Turner, Schofield, Jones, Perry, Allen, Abendanon.

South Africa v England
01 Jun 07 |  Rugby Union
South Africa recall for Skinstad
01 Jun 07 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 58-10 England
26 May 07 |  English


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