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Page last updated at 05:31 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 06:31 UK

Ojo gets England debut against NZ

NEW ZEALAND v ENGLAND
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Date: Saturday, 14 June Kick-off: 0835 BST Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live, Text commentary on BBC Sport website


Topsy Ojo during England training
Ojo played his first England game in the non-cap match against the Barbarians

London Irish wing Topsy Ojo will make his Test debut against New Zealand in an England side showing 11 changes from their last outing with Ireland.

Ojo starts in a back three alongside Mike Brown and David Strettle.

Mike Tindall and Olly Barkley are the centre pairing, with Charlie Hodgson and Richard Wigglesworth at half-back.

Tom Palmer partners captain Steve Borthwick at lock, Luke Narraway, James Haskell and Tom Rees form a new back row, with Matt Stevens at tight-head.

Stevens, with former captain and fellow tight-head prop Phil Vickery one of the many players resting or recovering from injury, starts alongside Andrew Sheridan and hooker Lee Mears.

The only other survivors from the side that started England's last Six Nations match against Ireland in March are scrum-half Wigglesworth and Borthwick, with Sheridan the only survivor from England's World Cup final side.

Wasps second-row Palmer starts his first Test since the end of the 2007 Six Nations.

It's going to be one of the toughest games these guys have ever played in

England manager Rob Andrew
"If you look at what Tom's done for Wasps in the last two months, the Wasps pack and Wasps in general have finished the season on fire and Tom's been a big part of that," said England tour manager Rob Andrew.

In the absence of Nick Easter, sidelined with a fractured hand, Andrew has opted to keep Haskell at blind-side, where he has excelled this season, and give Narraway only his second Test start at number eight.

The Gloucester back-row made his debut there in the Six Nations against Wales when Easter was injured, and won two further caps as a replacement.

Rees takes over at open-side flanker from Bath's Michael Lipman, who is out of the 22 with the experienced Joe Worsley the back-row replacement, Tom Croft also missing out.

606: DEBATE
Two more uncapped players, London Irish hooker David Paice and Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, could win their first caps off the bench.

Mathew Tait, England's one bright spot in a lacklustre warm-up win over the Barbarians, has to settle for a place among the replacements.

Mike Tindall returns for the first time after injury at outside centre, alongside Olly Barkley, back in the side after missing the Six Nations because a court case hanging over him.

Barkley gets the nod ahead of Toby Flood, while fly-half Hodgson will start his first Test since November 2006 in the absence of Danny Cipriani and Jonny Wilkinson, both recovering from surgery.

England have taken a weakened party to the southern hemisphere because of injuries but Andrew insisted England are "optimistic" going into the game in Auckland. "We've certainly got a side that want to be here," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The spirit in the camp is good. They've worked hard and they're looking forward to it, but as always coming to New Zealand, it's a pretty tough assignment.

"England have won here twice in 30 years, so it's going to be one of the toughest games these guys have ever played in, given the inexperience of some of the players.

"But if we can get some parity up front then I think we'll be in the game."

We'll have to be a bit sharper if we are to defeat England

NZ coach Graham Henry
New Zealand have made just one change to their side, with Crusaders prop Greg Somerville returning at tight-head.

Somerville, rested for last Saturday's 21-11 win over Ireland, takes over from the injured John Afoa.

There is one alteration on the bench, with back-row Sione Lauaki coming in for Adam Thomson.

Otherwise, coach Graham Henry has stuck with a settled side as the All Blacks look to continue their rebuilding following their World Cup disappointment.

Henry said: "This is our best side right now and we should benefit from another week of training together.

"We'll have to be a bit sharper if we are to defeat England. They have some very experienced internationals plus some new players coming through who might not be well known in New Zealand but will be a real challenge on Saturday."

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has signed a new four-year contract to remain in New Zealand.


England: M Brown (Harlequins); T Ojo (London Irish), M Tindall (Gloucester), O Barkley (Bath), D Strettle (Harlequins); C Hodgson (Sale), R Wigglesworth (Sale); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), L Mears (Bath), M Stevens (Bath), T Palmer (Wasps), S Borthwick (Bath, captain), J Haskell (Wasps), T Rees (Wasps), L Narraway (Gloucester).
Replacements: D Paice (London Irish), T Payne (Wasps), B Kay (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), J Noon (Newcastle), M Tait (Newcastle).

New Zealand: M Muliaina (Chiefs); A Tuitavake (Blues), C Smith (Hurricanes), M Nonu (Hurricanes), S Sivivatu (Chiefs); D Carter (Crusaders), A Ellis (Crusaders); N Tialata (Hurricanes), A Hore (Hurricanes), G Somerville (Crusaders), B Thorn (Crusaders), A Williams (Crusaders), R So'oialo (Hurricanes), R McCaw (Crusaders, captain), J Kaino (Blues).
Replacements: K Mealamu (Blues), J Schwalger (Hurricanes), A Boric (Blues), S Lauaki (Chiefs), J Cowan (Highlanders), S Donald (Chiefs), L MacDonald (Crusaders).




see also
Easter ruled out of England tour
08 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand 21-11 Ireland
07 Jun 08 |  Rugby Union
England 17-14 Barbarians
01 Jun 08 |  English
Borthwick proud to lead England
13 May 08 |  English
Borthwick to lead England in NZ
13 May 08 |  English


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