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Page last updated at 20:00 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Johnson trusts inexperienced side

Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 8 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Live on Sky Sports. Highlights on BBC Three (Saturday, 1905 GMT) and BBC Two (Sunday, 1230 GMT). Live text commentary on BBC Sport website
Kennedy, Armitage, Monye and Flutey will make their England debuts
Kennedy, Armitage, Monye and Flutey will make their England debuts

England manager Martin Johnson says he is not taking a risk by fielding such an inexperienced side against the Pacific Islanders on Saturday.

Delon Armitage, Riki Flutey, Ugo Monye and Nick Kennedy will make their debuts and halfbacks Danny Cipriani and Danny Care have just five caps between them.

"It's not a risk, they are good players and they can play, I'm confident they can handle it," he said.

"I wouldn't have picked them if I didn't believe they would deliver."

Much attention in particular will be paid to Cipriani, who is filling the gap left by the injured Jonny Wilkinson and has only just recovered from a serious ankle injury himself.

The Wasps fly-half said he was excited by the prospect of playing in a young team at Twickenham, but they would not be letting their enthusiasm get the better of them.

"There's massive potential in this team. But we know that this is a Test match and we can't just throw the ball around - we need to be responsible in what we do," Cipriani said.

"We're playing a very strong and physical side, we will need to make the right decisions at the right time."

One of Saturday's debutants will be Cipriani's club colleague, New Zealand-born inside centre Flutey.

In a perfect world I would say I'm not happy with it but it's got to the stage where you think you have to do it

Former skipper Martin Corry on the selection of foreign-born players
The 28-year-old played for New Zealand under-19s and under-21s as well as the New Zealand Maori but qualifies for England on the three-year residency rule, having moved to England in 2004 to join London Irish.

"I am really excited and proud to be representing England," he told BBC Sport.

"I'm part of this culture now and I will sing the national anthem alongside my mates, I'm looking forward to it.

"I was born and raised in New Zealand and part of my heart will always be there," said last year's Premiership Player of the Year last season.

"But I've been living here for three years and me and my family are really enjoying it.

"I am loving my rugby at the moment and to get this opportunity to run out at Twickenham and represent England is something I am very, very proud of."

Flutey revealed that a meeting with All Black legend Norm Hewitt when he was back in New Zealand recovering from injury was key to him making the decision to play for England.

"I had lunch with him and he is somebody I really look up to," said Flutey.

"We went to the same college. He is a top leader and to get Norm's blessing to play for England made me want to grab this opportunity with both hands."

Cipriani said his team-mate would add a lot to England's options.

"Riki is a student of the game," said Cipriani. "He loves to analyse what he is doing and also the opposition. He is very vocal in defence and provides a good option in attack.

"The blend between him and Jamie Noon (at outside centre) is hopefully going to be very positive, especially if it comes across on the field as it has done in training.

"He has a lot of experience. He told me he used to learn a lot from Tana Umaga and he was one of the best centres who ever lived. He gives a lot of that experience to myself."

Meanwhile, former skipper Martin Corry believes England have to accept the selection of foreign-born players if they are to repeat the World Cup triumph of 2003.

The squad for Saturday's game includes South African-born Matt Stevens, West Indian-born Armitage and two players born in New Zealand, Flutey and Dylan Hartley.

"I think it's a case of needs must," said Corry. "In a perfect world I would say I'm not happy with it but it's got to the stage where you think you have to do it. Your hand is forced.

"We have to do it if the overriding ambition for England is to be the best team in the world and win the World Cup.

"You're at the stage where you have to do it in order to compete at the highest level.

"We can't moan about it and look for the rights and wrongs of it."

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see also
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England face familiar Island foes
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Pick your England XV
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Jeremy Guscott column
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No fears over Hartley - Johnson
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Abendanon to miss England Tests
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Simpson-Daniel out of Test plans
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Comeback display pleases Cipriani
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Cipriani and Flutey land awards
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Rugby union on the BBC
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related internet links:
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Telegraph England to name team to face Pacific Islands in first match under Martin Johnson - 1 hr ago
Sporting Life ARMITAGE SET FOR TEST DEBUT - 1 hr ago


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