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Rugby Union
Mike Tindall rejoins England team
Many England players need strong performances against Wales to guarentee themselves a ticket to the Rugby World Cup.
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2011 16:11
Captain Tindall married the Queen's grand-daughter Zara Phillips at the end of July [GALLO/GETTY] 

Mike Tindall returns to the England team as captain and one of 13 changes for Saturday's match against Wales in Cardiff knowing he needs a strong performance to retain his position throughout the World Cup.

Tindall missed last week's 23-19 victory over the Welsh at Twickenham following his marriage to the Queen's grand-daughter Zara Phillips. He watched from the stands as 20-year-old Manu Tuilagi enjoyed a try-scoring debut in his place at outside centre.

On Thursday manager Martin Johnson selected him alongside his regular partner from last season, Shontayne Hape, but Tindall will be conscious that Tuilagi is putting the pressure on the duo, who barely miss a tackle but also rarely make a linebreak.

Tindall, who led England to four successive wins en route to the Six Nations title, resumes the captaincy after Lewis Moody was ruled out with the knee injury sustained last week.

"It's an opportunity for Mike to play and lead but there are good leaders throughout, it's a good team," Johnson told reporters at the team's training base ahead of the their final game before he names his World Cup squad on August 22.

"Shontayne gets another chance and he's a very smart player. He may not do the eye-catching things but he is solid for 80 minutes and people can play off that.

"Opposition coaches rate him very highly and I'll defend him all day."

         Flood will have to fight for his place against an in-form Jonny Wilkinson [GALLO/GETTY] 

Toby Flood is another coming back under some pressure after Jonny Wilkinson's man-of-the-match performance at flyhalf last week, while Richard Wigglesworth gets a rare chance to start at scrumhalf ahead of Danny Care as Ben Youngs continues his recovery from knee surgery.

Winger Chris Ashton and fullback Ben Foden, key players for England's attacking hopes, come in, with left wing Mark Cueto one of only two starters from last week to retain their places.

Courtney Lawes, who missed the Six Nations with a knee injury and then suffered a neck injury in England training last month, returns to form an athletic second-row partnership with Louis Deacon.

Nick Easter, Tom Wood and Hendrie Fourie form the back row, with Alex Corbisiero, who started last week, Steve Thompson and Dan Cole up front.

"If last week's team played this week's you wouldn't say which would win so that's a good thing," Johnson added.

"We need the right attitude about us, hopefully it will be pretty hostile, a tough away game, which is exactly what we need."

The roof is likely to be closed for Saturday's game, which is also good news for England who begin their World Cup campaign against Argentina under a roof in Dunedin.

After the Wales match England complete their preparations against Ireland in Dublin on August 27.

England - 15-Ben Foden, 14-Chris Ashton, 13-Mike Tindall (captain), 12-Shontayne Hape, 11-Mark Cueto, 10-Toby Flood 9-Richard Wigglesworth, 8-Nick Easter, 7-Hendrie Fourie, 6-Tom Wood, 5-Courtney Lawes, 4-Louis Deacon, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Steve Thompson, 1-Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16-Lee Mears, 17-Matt Stevens, 18-Tom Palmer, 19-James Haskell, 20-Danny Care, 21-Charlie Hodgson, 22-Matt Banahan.

Source:
Reuters
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