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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 16:30 GMT
Robinson makes wholesale changes
Wasps full-back Lewsey drops out of the 22-man match squad
Wasps full-back Lewsey drops out of the 22-man match squad
England coach Andy Robinson has made seven changes for the RBS Six Nations match against Ireland on Saturday.

Josh Lewsey, Mike Tindall, Matt Dawson, Steve Thompson, Julian White and Danny Grewcock have been axed, while Charlie Hodgson is out with a hamstring injury.

Tom Voyce and Stuart Abbott of Wasps and the Leicester pair of Andy Goode and Harry Ellis come into the backs.

Andrew Sheridan and Lee Mears win front-row places, while Simon Shaw is recalled in the second row.

Robinson has rung the changes after Sunday's 31-6 defeat by France in Paris, England's worst in the competition for 20 years.

"I felt it was right to reward players who have been playing well and to look at a number of players and give them the opportunity, particularly at home," said Robinson.

Dropped: Lewsey, Tindall, Dawson, Thompson, White, Grewcock
Injured: Hodgson
In: Voyce, Abbott, Goode, Ellis, Sheridan, Mears, Shaw, Walder (bench)

"Stuart Abbott gives us that extra bit of creativity. I think he's only ever had one game at home for England and it's right that he's given that opportunity to perform.

"I have faith in myself and what we are trying to achieve.

"We are all passionate about England and everyone's focus is on Ireland and improving hugely on the performance we had last week."

Five of the six dropped players - Tindall, Dawson, Thompson, White and Grewcock - are on the bench, but Lewsey is not even in the 22. All six were Rugby World Cup winners in 2003.

Lewsey's defensive error gifted France a try after just 43 seconds in Paris on Sunday, and Robinson admitted the decision to drop him had been "harsh".

In his BBC Sport column after the match Lewsey said: "I am sure there will be repercussions after a result like that."

Abbott is relishing his chance to stake a claim for a World Cup spot after making his last Test appearance against New Zealand 21 months ago.

"It is a great honour and I am really excited," said the 27-year-old centre.

He (Andy Robinson) has basically told me to play my own game, to express myself and to enjoy the occasion
Stuart Abbott

"It is somewhat disappointing to come in at this stage in the fact that we aren't challenging for a championship or Grand Slam.

"But it is an important Test match and we'll be looking to put the last two weeks behind us and do well this weekend."

Abbott will hope to add some creativity to Robinson's team, which has come under fire for its lack of spark after failing to score a try in their last two matches.

"He has basically told me to play my own game, to express myself and to enjoy the occasion," said Abbott.

Matt Stevens moves from his preferred loose-head position to the tight-head, with Sheridan reclaiming the number one shirt in place of White.

But Robinson has not tampered with his back-row combination of Joe Worsley, Lewis Moody and captain Martin Corry, even though it has been criticised for lacking balance.

The chairman of the Rugby Football Union, Martyn Thomas, on Tuesday told BBC Sport: "Our back row has not been sufficiently aggressive".

Lawrence Dallaglio is among the substitutes for a fifth successive Six Nations game.

England are striving to avoid their third championship defeat in a row - which would equal last season's performance - but they still have an outside chance of winning the tournament.

England team to face Ireland at Twickenham:
T Voyce (Wasps); M Cueto (Sale), J Noon (Newcastle), S Abbott (Wasps), B Cohen (Northampton); A Goode (Leicester), H Ellis (Leicester); A Sheridan (Sale), L Mears (Bath), M Stevens (Bath); S Borthwick (Bath), S Shaw (Wasps); J Worsley (Wasps), L Moody (Leicester), M Corry (Leicester, capt).
Replacements: S Thompson (Northampton), J White (Leicester), D Grewcock (Bath), L Dallaglio (Wasps), M Dawson (Wasps), D Walder (Newcastle), M Tindall (Gloucester).

Interview: England coach Andy Robinson

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