Courtney Lawes to captain England when he wins 100th cap against Fiji
Courtney Lawes will win his 100th cap when he captains England in Saturday’s final warm-up match before the World Cup against Fiji at Twickenham.
With Owen Farrell serving a four-match ban for a dangerous tackle, Lawes continues as skipper to become the fifth England player to amass a century of Test appearances, having made his debut in 2009.
George Ford continues as chief conductor in a new-look half-back combination that includes Alex Mitchell, while Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence are paired together for the first time in a powerful midfield alliance.
Head coach Steve Borthwick may have given a hint of his thinking at number eight following Billy Vunipola’s three-game suspension for a high hit by picking Ben Earl in the position.
In an unexpected development, Jonny May has been picked on the left wing despite not being selected in England’s World Cup squad, hinting at potential injury problems in the back three.
Borthwick has made nine changes to the side thumped 29-10 by Ireland in Dublin, including a first start for hooker Theo Dan with Jack Walker poised to make his comeback from a calf injury off the bench as cover.
Ollie Chessum follows his replacement cameo at the Aviva Stadium with a start for the visit of the Islanders to step up his return from a serious ankle injury.
Freddie Steward is the only player to have started all four warm-up Tests after being retained at full-back.
Concerns continue to grow over the fitness of Tom Curry, with the influential Sale flanker missing once again to continue his recovery from the ankle injury that must now threaten his involvement in the vital World Cup opener against Argentina on September 9.
England have lost four of their last five games and desperately need to find some form before departing for France next week.
“After another eventful and dramatic encounter against the number one team in the world in Dublin last weekend, we are delighted to be back at Twickenham with our home supporters to welcome an in-form Fiji team,” Borthwick said.
“Fiji have proven themselves to be a strong opposition and we look forward to what we expect to be an exciting and challenging game.
“Rest assured that we will be looking to convert the opportunities we have recently been creating week-on-week into points on the scoreboard.
“At this our last Test before heading to France, I want to thank our fans for all the support you continue to give us, and it means a lot to us that you will be behind us all the way on our World Cup journey.”
Lawes made his debut as a 20-year-old against Australia yet has played some of his best rugby in the twilight years of his Test career.
“We couldn’t be prouder of Courtney on achieving his incredible milestone after 14 years of excellent performances for his country,” Borthwick said.
“It has been a privilege to watch his journey and witness him develop into a truly outstanding rugby player.
“Not only is Courtney an exceptional talent and an excellent professional, he is also a brilliant role model for young players every time he steps onto the field.”Published: by Radio NewsHub