Eng­land hand Brad Shields start in sec­ond Test against South Africa

The Guardian Australia - - Sport - Robert Kit­son in Dur­ban

Eng­land have dropped Chris Rob­shaw and in­cluded Danny Cipri­ani on the bench for Saturday’s sec­ond Test against South Africa. Brad Shields will make his first Test start in place of Rob­shaw in the back-row, the fit-again Joe Launch­bury re­turns in the back-row and Cipri­ani re­places Piers Fran­cis in the match­day squad.

Rob­shaw, 32, has largely been a per­ma­nent fix­ture in the back-row un­der Ed­die Jones and his pre­de­ces­sor Stu­art Lan­caster but does not even fea­ture as a sub­sti­tute. Af­ter 65 caps for his coun­try, in­clud­ing 42 as cap­tain, the loyal Har­lequins flanker has been su­per­seded by the New Zealand-reared Shields who has yet to play a sin­gle Premier­ship game.

“Based on South Africa’s likely se­lec­tion of an ex­tra line-out jumper, we’ve de­cided to start with Brad Shields which im­proves our li­ne­out,” ex­plained Jones. “It’s tough on Chris Rob­shaw, who has been an out­stand­ing player for us, but I know he’ll bounce back.”

Cipri­ani has not pre­vi­ously fea­tured in a Test un­der Jones but has had a fine do­mes­tic sea­son and, for the first time since the sum­mer of 2015, has been given a chance to res­ur­rect his stalled in­ter­na­tional ca­reer. There is also a place on the bench for the New­cas­tle for­ward Mark Wil­son, with Nick Isiekwe drop­ping out.

“Danny Cipri­ani will come on to the bench, we’re look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent which he can bring,” said Jones. “He’s been train­ing well and do­ing ev­ery­thing that’s asked of him. Bloem­fontein is a very fast ground at al­ti­tude. It has an average of 60 points per Test match so we are an­tic­i­pat­ing an ebband-flow type game like we had in Jo­han­nes­burg.

“We have come here to win the se­ries against South Africa and the squad is ready to go out and beat them this week­end. We have had a very good prepa­ra­tion this week and the in­ten­sity and ex­e­cu­tions in those ses­sions are go­ing to put us in a good po­si­tion for Saturday.”

Brad Shields looks on dur­ing an Eng­land train­ing ses­sion this week in Dur­ban. Pho­to­graph: David Rogers/Getty Im­ages

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