Eng­land beef up their pack

The Mercury - - SPORT - Darryn Pollock pic­tured,

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.

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