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    England v South Africa

    @@@@SPAN =text>England boss Andy Robinson has reacted to his team's shambolic defeat against Argentina by making seven changes for the Twickenham appointment with South Africa on Saturday.
    Wing Ben Cohen, lock Danny Grewcock and flanker Lewis Moody - who boast more than 160 caps between them - are among those absent from Robinson's starting line-up.
    Cohen is replaced by his fellow World Cup winner Josh Lewsey, with Wasps forward Tom Palmer taking over from Grewcock and Palmer's club colleague Joe Worsley recalled in the back row instead of Moody, who is relegated to bench duty.Martin Corry retains the captaincy, but switches to number eight in a rejigged back row which sees Pat Sanderson at openside flanker and Worsley wearing the number six jersey.
    Elsewhere, Sale Sharks prop Andrew Sheridan returns for Perry Freshwater, scrum-half Peter Richards is preferred to Shaun Perry, Newcastle centre Mathew Tait replaces 20-year-old Gloucester midfield prospect Anthony Allen and fit-again Sharks wing Mark Cueto starts instead of Paul Sackey.
    Three posiitonal switches see Corry at eight instead of Sanderson, Worcester skipper Sanderson handed the number seven jersey above Moody and Jamie Noon moved to inside centre with Allen left out.
    Wasps prop Phil Vickery, meanwhile, is among the replacements for potentially his first Test appearance since England lost to New Zealand at Twickenham a year ago.
    Vickery has overcome major back problems to re-establish himself on the Guinness Premiership scene with his new club Wasps, and will add considerable experience as England strive to avoid a record eighth successive defeat.
    Robinson, who effectively has two games against South Africa to save his career as England chief, had to carry out major surgery.
    England's loss to the Pumas was their seventh in a row stretching back to February, while a 74,000 Twickenham crowd booed the world champions off after Argentina triumphed 25-18.
    Cueto, one of the most prolific try scorers at England's disposal, returns after missing the opening two autumn Tests due to an ankle injury sustained during Sharks' Heineken Cup defeat against the Ospreys last month.
    Sackey deputised impressively, especially against Argentina when he scored a superb solo try but then suffered a knee injury.
    Tait possibly would have started against New Zealand, had he not been laid low by a thigh injury just after recovering from early-season knee surgery, with Allen now returning to his club after a tough Test baptism.Hodgson is retained despite an error-strewn display against Argentina which saw him substituted early in the second half, although England at least have fly-half and goalkicking insurance cover on the bench with Andy Goode and Toby Flood.
    Richards' promotion above Perry is no surprise, while Sheridan has recovered from a back problem which forced him out of contention against Argentina, and Grewcock's alarming loss of form made it inevitable he would make way for a second-row alternative.
    England have never lost eight Tests on the bounce in 135 years of international rugby, but that is the possible prospect awaiting Robinson's team on Saturday.
    Whatever happens, he will have to make further wholesale changes for the second Springboks Test.An agreement between England and Premier Rugby means no player can start more than three of the four autumn Tests, and after Saturday, eight players will fit in that category - Noon, Hodgson, Sanderson, Corry, Iain Balshaw, George Chuter, Julian White and Ben Kay.

    England team to play South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday: I Balshaw (Gloucester); M Cueto (Sale Sharks), M Tait (Newcastle), J Noon (Newcastle), J Lewsey (Wasps); C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), P Richards (Gloucester); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), G Chuter (Leicester), J White (Leicester),
    Shaqtastic...29 points


    Looks Weak....seriously

    I think they have actually weakened their back row
    Shaqtastic...29 points



      I think it's a much stronger,more balanced team. The backwor has been reshapedwith Corry returned to 8 and Sanderson playing in position at openside. There is good skills, grunt and discipline with Palmer at lock, and Tait/Cueto give themgenuine speed and"field sense", a real cutting edge.

      I expect England to win comfortably, very comfotably against a really lousy SA side. Hmm.. wonder what the betting line is.



        Not sure...Balshaw in any back 3.......sure a nice try last week but was horrible against NZ.In fairness to Cohen has done little wrong. Noon isnt much of a passer.I hope England win,Robinson stays and we beat them 4th time in a row.

        Suits you sir
        Shaqtastic...29 points



          At first glance I thought it was an improvement but the more I look at it the weaker it looks. Lewsey should be at FB, easily his most natural position (note Cohen is dropped despite most pundits saying he was the best englishman on the pitch last week !). Noon is still there but perhaps the club partnership might spark something. Hodgson is still there so they better hope they are going forward all game. And the pack lacks cohesion, coupled with they still have no leadership/captaincy. Plus the subs bench looks weak for the backs unless they expect Goode to cover inside centre (as well as one dimensional FH).

          The only saving grace is that they are playing a weak SA, they better just pray that Habana doesn't see too much daylight.

          PS Wonder how much the Boks get for showing up with a 2nd XV, considering the ABs get a cool million and the Pumas nothing



            Keep in mind that Robinson has an agreement in place with the Premiership clubs that no player will play in more than 3 of the 4 Autumn tests...



              From the NZ HERALD and a good Kiwi rugby writer Wynne Gray.

              @@@@SPAN style="FONT-WEIGHT: bold; FONT-SIZE: 14px">Say hello to the Mils and Ma'a show for Paris@@@@/SPAN>
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 8px"></DIV>

              @@@@SPAN =copy>Wednesday November 15, 2006
              By Wynne Gray

              PARIS - The All Blacks' power of surprise continued today with five changes for the repeat test with France including another rejigged midfield.

              When the selection wheel stopped, Mils Muliaina and Ma'a Nonu were awarded the midfield roles in a blend which has yet to be tried during coach Graham Henry's regime.

              (For full team list see below)

              Muliaina was picked for five tests this year at centre as the search continued for the best replacement for Tana Umaga. But Nonu has never been used at second five-eighths in a test by the current selectors. He came on as a midfield substitute against France in Lyon last weekend and started there against the Barbarians at Twickenham in 2004.

              Muliaina has shown he is equally adept at fullback or centre while Leon MacDonald would probably get into any other international side as a fullback.

              He was in tremendous form at Lyon defusing many of the French "bombs" and with the ambiguity still about centre, the selectors have chosen to include MacDonald and Muliaina.

              Whether that shows their hand for the World Cup or they are still experimenting is unclear.

              Those picked for Paris who did not start last week are Muliaina, Nonu, Byron Kelleher, Chris Jack and Keven Mealamu.

              Nonu's selection is the wildcard in today's team announcement, especially when the selectors had nominated Aaron Mauger and Luke McAlister as their preferred second five-eighths on tour. They had also used Nonu at centre against England.

              They liked the amount of carries Nonu had at Twickenham and obviously are looking to tweak the game plan and give the French more problems.

              No matter the slant put on the selection, it is a rebuff for Mauger, McAlister and Conrad Smith and further evidence the selectors are uneasy about how best to cope with Umaga's absence.

              Every player in the squad was fit and available for this weekend.

              Nonu has all the power Umaga brought to his game and the coaching staff were complimentary about his decisions, support play and ball retention at Twickenham.
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 10px">There are still rough edges to Nonu's game, some defensive flaws and he may be best used in midfield in tests where his lack of outright speed will not be exposed.</DIV>
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 10px"></DIV>
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 10px">In the other changes Kelleher replaces Piri Weepu who has slid right off the radar with Andrew Ellis chosen as the backup halfback. There is a similar scenario at hooker with the Mealamu restored to the front row and Anton Oliver missing the for Andrew Hore. </DIV>

              Ali Williams' strong performance at lock at Lyon has earned him a repeat cap, pushing past Keith Robinson to be in tandem with Chris Jack.

              It has taken 34 tests and three years' scrutiny but the All Blacks have eventually revealed their top side.
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 10px">At least that was the theory delivered by coach Graham Henry in the initial week on tour, a strategy which was made before his side put 40 points past England and France. </DIV>
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 10px">Is this the top team or the most appropriate combination they want to see play France? Assistant coach Steve Hansen pointed in that direction after Lyon when he said the top 22 would not be everyone's choice. </DIV>
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 10px">"We'll pick our team for this game based on what is right for the team and the opposition we're playing." </DIV>
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 10px"></DIV>
              <DIV style="LINE-HEIGHT: 10px">Team: Leon MacDonald, Joe Rokocoko, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Sitiveni Si



                Flood is the first centre cover and the back row is far better. I think they will struggle against a SA side that will be much improved for having played a game together but eventually just about win.

                My computer thinks I'm gay
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                  Boks bank on Butch<!-</A>->
                  <H3 =posted>Wednesday 15 November 2006</H3>
                  <DIV =storyc&#111;ntent>
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                  Jake White has given Andre Pretorius the bullet after just one test up north.<A id=more-3622></A>

                  This was supposed to be Pretorius’s defining tour, but after one sub-standard performance against Ireland he has been shown the revolving door and will warm the bench at Twickenham.

                  Butch James, once the saviour, then the sinner, is again the saviour of all Bok backline woes.

                  James was on Wednesday named in the Bok team to play England, with White radically changing the make-up of the backline and the pack.

                  Francois Steyn reverts to fullback, Akona Ndungane is back on the wing, along with Bryan Habana and Wynand Olivier is back at centre. There is still no place for Ruan Pienaar.

                  In the pack, White has resisted starting with Hilton Lobberts, despite telling the media he was the next Jerry Collins. Once again White has entrusted Jacques Cronje with a starting role, while Pierre Spies’s northern hemisphere No 8 experiment lasted just one match.

                  Spies plays flank, as does Danie Rossouw.

                  Albert van den Berg is given the axe, as is Lawrence Sephaka.

                  In all there are seven changes and three positional to the side hammered in Dublin.

                  Boks to play England: Steyn, Ndungane, Olivier, De Villiers, Habana, James, Januarie, Cronje, Spies, Rossouw, Muller, Ackermann, Botha, Smit and Van der Linde. Subs: Ralepelle, Carstens, Van den Berg, Lobberts, Pienaar, Pretorius and Fortuin.</DIV>


                    SA backline should be better with people back in their proper positions. England won't find as many holes as we did last weekend.


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                      <DIV =sh>England hit by Balshaw pull-out </DIV></DIV></TD></TR>
                      <TD vAlign=top width=416><!- S BO -><!- S IIMA ->
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                      <DIV =cap>Balshaw was one of England's try-scorers against Argentina</DIV></DIV></TD></TR></T></TABLE><!- E IIMA -><!- S SF ->England's hopes of ending their run of defeats on Saturday against South Africa have been hit by full-back Iain Balshaw withdrawal with a calf injury.

                      Northampton's Ben Cohen has been recalled to the side on the left wing, with Josh Lewsey moving from wing to full-back in a defensive reshuffle.

                      Cohen was dropped by England after last Saturday's loss to Argentina.

                      The Northampton player needs just one more try to go clear in second place in England's all-time try-scoring list</TD></TR></T></TABLE>
                      "Some people don't know their easy lives... I wouldn't be so ungrateful" - Fiacre Ryan - #AutismAndMe


                        Blessing in disguise, Lewsey is much more effective at FB and Cohen was'nt as bad as the rest last week. S'Africa team is better as well, this game is going to be tight I think and am really not sure who to bet on.
                        The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad.
                        - Salvador Dali (1904-1989)



                          Conquering demons is the key

                          <DIV =LeadPara>THERE are changes galore for England and South Africa in the opening game of the two-match series, at Twickenham tomorrow. </DIV>
                          <DIV =LeadPara>In England's case the changes would be both performance-related and, of course, simple rotation because of the additional game against New Zealand creating a three-match ceiling on the players. </DIV>
                          <DIV =TailParas>For South Africa, their changes might well be disguised under the banner of development and the need to try different combinations on tour, although there is no doubt that both teams are struggling to get anywhere near their true potential. With the Rugby World Cup pool games in mind, this match represents an early indication of what is on offer next year in France. </DIV>
                          <DIV =TailParas>The back-row changes create a fascinating contest, as both sides desire to win quick ruck ball to get on the front foot. Getting that facet of the game right has been sporadic at best for either side. The winning of quick ball is not an exclusivity of the back-row players but the responsibility of all 15 these days, yet both sets of coaches have opted for large, ball-carrying players in their reshuffling to go forward first. </DIV>
                          <DIV =TailParas>There are several key factors involved in winning quick ball: the ball carrier has to win the collision/tackle and that means creating a body position in contact that will allow clear presentation of the ball; speed to the contact area by the nearest supporting player and, of course, correct technique at the collision/tackle area by the first one or two players arriving at the scene. Obviously the wider you play the game the more difficult this becomes, as you have to rely on backs to do the forwards' work. This area has seen dramatic improvement since the advent of professionalism, whereby backs now fully understand their roles as ball winners as well as ball users. </DIV>
                          <DIV =TailParas>Virtually everyone in rugby has become adept at slowing the ball down in the contact area, so much so that it has become possibly the worst feature of the game. It's also not too difficult to coach, whereas coaching the winning of quick ball remains the panacea to success and that is the key to these teams' futures. They either move on from last week's disappointments or sink into the abyss. </DIV>
                          <DIV =TailParas>The pressure is beginning to take its toll on both regimes and that has a serious effect on performance. The team who can ditch the demons of failure and get on with their game will win. </DIV>
                          <DIV =TailParas>(c) 2006 Telegraph Group Limited, London </DIV>
                          <DIV =TailParas>The Daily Telegraph</DIV>
                          Seas suas agus troid!


                            This is really a case of : the coach of the losing team gets the sack therefore it'll be interesting to see how the players react. If they're sick of the coach, perhaps they'll have stinkers. You could see both teams trying to outdo each other in the N° of mistakes they make &amp; tackles they miss.
                            Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
                            Albert Einstein


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                              <DIV =sh>Corry set for 'biggest challenge' </DIV></DIV></TD></TR>
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                              <DIV =cap></DIV></DIV></TD></TR></T></TABLE><!- E IIMA -><!- S SF ->England skipper Martin Corry says leading his beleaguered side against South Africa on Saturday is the "biggest challenge" of his career.

                              England go into the match on a run of seven straight defeats knowing that another would condemn the side to their worst sequence of results in 135 years.

                              Corry has been under pressure following the defeat by Argentina last weekend.

                              "I've never ducked a challenge. This is the biggest challenge of my career, personally, and for the team," he said. <!- E SF ->

                              The England team were booed off the Twickenham pitch last weekend after their error-ridden display against the Pumas.

                              The defeat has led to Corry, his team-mates and head coach Andy Robinson coming under intense scrutiny this week.

                              "You become desperate to get out there again," said Corry, who captains England for the 13th time.

                              "Twickenham remains that very special place for all of us. We recognise that everyone - the public, the players, coaches and officials - demand success from England, and that is how it should be.

                              "We let a lot of people down last Saturday, and the crowd's reaction reflected that.

                              "Please judge us on this performance. We know the fans hurt last week, but no one hurt as much at Twickenham as we did in the changing room.

                              "A lot of things have been said this week, and our performance has meant it has been open season on the team.

                              "What you do is pool all your emotions to produce a huge performance."

                              The Springboks are also a team under pressure following their last-place finish in the 2006 Tri-Nations and last week's 32-15 defeat at the hands of Ireland in Dublin.

                              South Africa, who are without several of their top players, have lost their last six Tests against England while their last Twickenham win came in 1997.

                              But Corry has warned his side that the Springboks will still provide a stern test this weekend.

                              "All Test matches are different, and with South Africa you can see their emphasis on physicality," he added. <!- S ILIN -><!- E ILIN ->

                              "But you must not make the mistake of playing too tight, because they have men outside who rate among the best finishers in the world.

                              "It is going to be physical, because we will make it so. We will take the game to them.

                              "There is a lot of anger in the squad about what happened last week, so it is great we get to play again a week later." </TD></TR></T></TABLE>
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                              If you’re fat stay in the ruck - Liam Toland