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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Five to watch

By James Standley

Tom Varndell (left) and Mathew Tait pictured during the Dubai Sevens
Tom Varndell (left) and Mathew Tait will be looking to shine down under
With the 2007 World Cup looming on the horizon England coach Andy Robinson has rung the changes for the summer tour of Australia.

A combination of injuries and Robinson's desire to rest players means just eight of the 22 who faced Ireland in the final match of the 2006 Six Nations will make the trip Down Under.

That means a number of new faces - plus one old one - have been handed the chance to make their mark.

Here BBC Sport picks out five to watch when England travel to Australia in June.


The 20-year-old Newcastle centre has bounced back after being prematurely selected as an 18-year-old by Robinson to face Wales in the 2005 Six Nations.

Mathew Tait
Born: 6/2/86
Height: 5ft 11in (1.80m)
Weight: 13st 5lb (85kg)
Position: Centre
England caps: 1
He had a nightmare that day, and was hauled off midway through the second half after Gavin Henson treated him like a rag doll.

Understandably his confidence appeared to suffer and he struggled for the rest of that season, but his undoubted potential has shone through this year.

He was the star of the Commonwealth sevens in Melbourne and is a noticeably bigger and stronger than 18 months ago, although anyone expecting miracles must remember he is still barely out of boyhood.


The grand old man of the back division earns an international recall at the age of 34, two years after his last cap, which came in the 51-15 thrashing by Australia in Brisbane.

Mike Catt
Born: 17/07/71
Height: 5ft 10in (1.78m)
Weight: 13st 8lb (86kg)
Position: Centre
England caps: 65

Runner-up to Jason White in the Professional Rugby Players' Association (PRA) player of the year award, Catt's experience, distribution and kicking game were at the heart of London Irish's run to the Premiership play-offs.

Under the guidance of Brian Smith, the Exiles were transformed from a sterile outfit into the leading regular-season try scorers with 54, and Catt was instrumental in their evolution.

He may no longer have the pace which saw him earn caps for England on the wing, but he reads the game beautifully and will help take the pressure off England's youthful backs on and off the pitch.


The PRA young player of the year - beating Tait in the process - Varndell is the most exciting runner to hit the English game since Jason Robinson switched codes.

Tom Varndell
Born: 16/09/85
Height: 6ft 3in (1.91m)
Weight: 95kg (14st 5lb)
Position: Wing
England caps: 1

Varndell combines dancing feet with searing pace (he claims 10.8 seconds for the 100m in his socks as a schoolboy) and finished the Premiership regular season as the leading try scorer with 14 tries.

New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens says he is "the fastest thing I've seen on a rugby field" and at 6ft 3in he also has a real physical presence.

There were suggestions that doubts about his defence hindered his Six Nations chances and he is clearly a long way from the finished article, but Varndell looks poised for stardom.


The 22-year-old had a fine season as part of Sale's excellent back row alongside Jason White and Sebastien Chabal and has been talked about as an England player for some time.

Magnus Lund
Born: 25/06/83
Height: 6ft 3in (1.91m)
Weight: 16st 5lb (104kg)
Position: Open-side flanker
England caps: 0

The son of a Norwegian basketball international, Lund has the huge work-rate of an open-side flanker, and at 6ft 3in he also offers a line-out option.

He has come up through the England age groups and has also represented the sevens side.

Doubts remain about the long-term composition of England's back row and Lund has the chance to make a serious impression.


With Steve Borthwick injured the door is open for Brown, long considered one of the best line-out operators in England, to make his mark.

Alex Brown
Born: 17/05/79
Height: 6ft 7in (2.10m)
Weight: 17st 5lb (110kg)
Position: Second row
England: caps: 0

The Gloucester man, who turns 27 on Wednesday, looked set to make his debut in the November internationals at the start of the season.

However, he injured his neck and Borthwick took his chance so well he retained his place for the Six Nations.

Brown is not the most powerful of second rows but he is athletic, mobile and should have plenty of hunger after several years on the fringes of the England set-up.

England recall for veteran Catt
15 May 06 |  Internationals
Corry to sit out Australia tour
12 May 06 |  Internationals
Perry forced out of England tour
10 May 06 |  Internationals
Sheridan joins England absentees
09 May 06 |  Rugby Union
Cohen, Thompson miss England tour
05 May 06 |  Internationals
Lewsey set to miss England tour
04 May 06 |  Internationals
Wilkinson will not tour - Andrew
29 Apr 06 |  English

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