England beef up their pack
THE English will be boosted by the services of lock Joe Launchbury who has had an injury cloud over him since arriving in South Africa, as well Hurricanes captain Brad Shields who moves into the starting line-up for tomorrow’s clash in Bloemfontein.
The mercurial flyhalf Danny Cipriani is named on the bench, replacing former Blues player Piers Francis.
Cipriani’s last cap for England came against France ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
The rest of the side remains the same with the hopes that they will be able to replicate the performance they managed in Johannesburg in the first 20 minutes of the game.
One of the casualties has been Chris Robshaw, the former England captain, who makes way for the New Zealand born Shields. “Difficult decision to drop Chris, we just feel we need another lineout forward against South Africa,” coach Eddie Jones explained.
“Brad is a very competent jumper and he has fitted in the team well. Chris has been slightly off his game the last couple of weeks, and we feel he would benefit from the rest.”
The English have shown that they are able to attack and put the Boks on the back foot, but only when they have the ball and are allowed to attack. Their discipline has been their downfall in the past with wing Jonny May stating in the week that they are looking to address this facet of their game.
“We have spoken as a group because we’re desperate to be the best. One penalty can really get a team going. It’s such a frustrating one because we don’t want to be giving away penalties. We know better than that,” May said.
The pressure is definitely on the English to get a result as their defeat in Johannesburg was their fifth in a row, including a loss to the Barbarians.
“It is a difficult time for us. Whenever you lose a few games, there is noise, there is pressure, and it is a complex job picking 23 players out of 34,” Jones added. “We have identified areas we need to work on.
“We have come here to win the series against SA 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.” LONDON: Arsenal’s new manager Unai Emery faces a baptism of fire after the Gunners were handed an opening day fixture at home to Premier League champions Manchester City.
Emery, Arsenal’s first new manager since Arsene Wenger took charge in 1996, will then travel to London rivals Chelsea on the second weekend of the season.
Liverpool, who will look to build on their Champions League final appearance, open their campaign at home to West Ham United in what will be manager Manuel Pellegrini’s first competitive game in charge of the London side.
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, a distant runners-up to City last season, start at home to Leicester City while FA Cup winners Chelsea are away to the determined Huddersfield Town.
Tottenham Hotspur, who finished third, have confirmed that their first home fixture on the second week of the season against newly-promoted Fulham will be held at Wembley.
The north London club say their first game in their new stadium will be against Liverpool on the weekend of September 15-16.
Tottenham played all their home games at Wembley last season while their new 62 000-seater stadium was being constructed, but work is still ongoing and the club has sought permission to return to the national stadium for one game.
“As you will note there is a home fixture scheduled for the weekend of 18/19 August 2018 and this match will be played as a home fixture at Wembley Stadium,” the club’s website said.
“It was always our intention to seek permission to play the first few games away.
“In discussions with our coaching staff the preference was to break what would otherwise have been a continuous run of away games with one game at what was effectively our ‘home’ stadium last season.”
Tottenham are away to Newcastle United on the opening weekend on August 11-12. Championship winners Wolverhampton Wanderers will mark their return to the top division for the first time since 2012 against Marco Silva’s Everton at Molineux. Cardiff City, automatically promoted with Wolves, start away to Bournemouth while Fulham, who beat Aston Villa in the Championship playoff, host former manager Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace in a London derby.
Southampton host Burnley on the opening day.
The season’s first Manchester derby will be at The Etihad on the weekend of November 10-11 while Arsenal host Tottenham and Liverpool greet Everton on the weekend of December 1-2.
All eyes will be on former Paris St Germain manager Emery, as he attempts to revive Arsenal’s fortunes after they missed out on the Champions League for a second successive season.
The Spaniard will come face to face with fellow Spaniard Pep Guardiola on the opening day and after a trip to Chelsea he has another London derby with West Ham United the visitors.