Rugby Ash­ton in for tough re­turn as Ki­wis aim to make state­ment

Coventry Telegraph - - SPORT - By DUN­CAN BECH Chris Ash­ton

CHRIS Ash­ton makes his first Eng­land start for four years as one of three changes for Satur­day’s lon­gawaited clash with New Zealand at Twick­en­ham.

Ash­ton lines-up on the right wing in place of Jack Now­ell af­ter im­press­ing dur­ing his 15-minute spell as a sub­sti­tute in the 12-11 vic­tory over South Africa that opened the Quil­ter In­ter­na­tion­als.

The 31-year-old has amassed 40 caps in an in­ter­na­tional ca­reer in­ter­rupted by sus­pen­sion, fall­ing out of favour with suc­ces­sive Eng­land coaches and a sea­son-long spell in Toulon.

Now­ell drops to the bench but there is no place for Manu Tuilagi de­spite his re­cov­ery from the groin strain that ruled him out against the Spring­boks.

The two other changes see Ben Moon come in for Alec Hep­burn at loose­head prop and Sam Un­der­hill re­places Tom Curry, who has been ruled out of the re­main­der of the au­tumn by an an­kle in­jury.

Court­ney Lawes re­turns to the bench af­ter over­com­ing a lower back prob­lem, forc­ing Zach Mercer out of the match­day 23.

Owen Far­rell co-cap­tains the team along­side Dy­lan Hart­ley and needs only one more point to reach 700 for Eng­land.

Eng­land face New Zealand for the first time in four years and have been in­stalled as heavy un­der­dogs against the world cham­pi­ons.

“The ex­pec­ta­tion for Satur­day is no dif­fer­ent to any other Test match,” Ed­die Jones said.

We want to be at our best, bet­ter than we were in the pre­vi­ous Test match and we want to play with pride and pas­sion which ig­nites the fan.

“It’s been a good week, the play­ers have re­cov­ered well, trained well on Tues­day, ex­cep­tion­ally well on Wed­nes­day and we look for­ward to the chal­lenge of tak­ing on New Zealand on Satur­day.”

Mean­while, New Zealand have picked their strong­est avail­able team, in­clud­ing a cen­tre pair­ing of Sonny Bill Wil­liams and Jack Good­hue, for Satur­day’s clash with Eng­land.

The hard-run­ning Cru­saders duo will start to­gether for the All Blacks for only the sec­ond time af­ter Good­hue re­cov­ered from glan­du­lar fever, forc­ing Ryan Crotty on to the bench.

Prop Joe Moody suf­fered a cut eye in train­ing, so Karl Tu’inukuafe takes his place in the front row of a side led by num­ber eight Kieran Read and di­rected by Beau­den Bar­rett at fly­half.

In an omi­nous warn­ing to Eng­land, Hansen has re­vealed that his world cham­pi­ons are look­ing to make a state­ment at Twick­en­ham.

“We know we’ll be up against a very de­ter­mined and well-coached English side,” Hansen said.

“They’ll have gained a lot of con­fi­dence from their win over South Africa and be keen to make a state­ment in front of their pas­sion­ate Twick­en­ham home crowd.

“How­ever, for us it’s about mak­ing our own state­ment. To do that, we’ll need to bring our own in­ten­sity and ac­cu­racy to an even higher level through­out the game.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to as­sess where our game is at and we’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to it.”

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