Ioane eager to face 'pretty' English wingers

Tue, Nov 13, 2012, 00:00

Rugby:Saracens wing Chris Ashton has replaced Ugo Monye in England’s 23-man squad for Saturday’s Cook Cup international against Australia at Twickenham.

Ashton was suspended for England’s 54-12 victory over Fiji last weekend but he has been recalled to face the Wallabies, against whom he has scored three tries in three Tests.

The inclusion of Ashton is the only change to the match-day squad made by head coach Stuart Lancaster, who has decided not to rush Jonathan Joseph or Alex Corbisiero back into the squad.

Corbisiero played his first game in five months for the London Irish last weekend after recovering from a knee injury and Lancaster wants him to get another club game under his belt.

Joseph is fit again after shaking an ankle injury but he will join Corbisiero in being available for London Irish in their LV= Cup game against Leicester.

Lancaster will finalise his starting XV on Thursday morning but Ashton and Charlie Sharples are the likely wing selections, with Monye released to play for Harlequins.

Australia wrecking ball Digby Ioane will line up opposite Ashton on Saturday and is relishing the chance to launch his comeback against England’s “pretty” wingers.

The destructive 27-year-old has been carrying a knee problem that forced him to miss the Wallabies’ last two matches, but is ready to excel on his return.

“The England wingers are pretty, really good looking. I just can’t wait to go against them,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this game because I want to redeem myself. In the last few matches I’ve been injured and have struggled. Now I’m fully fit and I’ve got to prove myself again.”

Ashton left an indelible mark on Australia when the two sides met two years ago.

Running nearly the length of the field to score a brilliantly-worked try, he spearheaded England’s 35-18 triumph on a memorable day at Twickenham.

Ioane has yet to cross swords with the in-form Saracens winger but has been impressed with what he has seen of the rugby league convert on YouTube.

“It will be really exciting and an honour to play against Ashton,” he said. “I’ve never played against a winger like him so I’m looking forward to it. I hear he’s coming back into his stride and is really respected over here. I’ve watched a lot of him on YouTube. There’s a lot of clips on there of him scoring tries.

“I respect what he’s done for his country and his league background. Normally in Australia any league players who join union end going back to league. I find going from league to union is pretty hard, while it’s pretty easy the other way around. I find league’s not skilful, you’ve just got 13 guys and you have to run against them. Union is different, there’s more to it.”

Australia were licking their wounds as they transferred from Paris to London yesterday afternoon, reeling from their 33-6 capitulation to France. It has been a challenging year for a team badly hit by injuries with coach Robbie Deans awarding 14 new caps, using 41 players in their 12 Tests and naming four different captains.

Furthermore they have failed to score a try in 177 minutes of rugby and it is the first time since 1979 that two matches have passed without the Wallabies crossing. It is a remarkable statistic for a team famed for their attacking ingenuity and dynamism, but Ioane offers a simple explanation.

“It’s frustrating, but you can’t pull everything off in one day. Hopefully we can show on Saturday what we’re capable of,” he said. “We’re not offering excuses, but we just haven’t had our full team on the pitch. Losing games isn’t a good feeling and it means you have to pick it up. But France played really well. Their scrums and offloads killed us.

“You think they’re down in the tackle but then they get that second pass away. It’s hard to defend against that sort of play.”

Deans names his team to play England on Thursday afternoon with David Pocock, their outstanding openside, expected to return from a knee injury.

“Pocock has the X-factor. He brings a lot of chat and confidence. He’s someone to look up to,” Ioane said.

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