Semesa Rokoduguni to debut for England against All Blacks

No place for Dan Carter in New Zealand’s match day 23

 Semesa Rokoduguni passes the ball during an  England training session earlier this week. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Semesa Rokoduguni passes the ball during an England training session earlier this week. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

England have named Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing for Saturday’s test against New Zealand at Twickenham.

The uncapped Rokoduguni, a serving soldier in the British Army with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who has seen action in Afghanistan, has been rewarded for an outstanding start to the season at Bath.

Born in Fiji, the 27-year-old was once unable to make the bench of his school team but now finds himself acting as England’s main threequarter strike weapon in the injury-enforced absence of Manu Tuilagi.

“I’m delighted for Roko. Wing is an extremely competitive position, but he has pushed himself forward with his form this season and it’s great to be able to give him this opportunity,” head coach Stuart Lancaster said.

Rokoduguni is one of three uncapped players in the 23 with Bath team-mate Anthony Watson offering back-three cover from the bench and George Kruis of Saracens the second-row replacement.

Dave Attwood, one of seven Bath players in the matchday squad, starts at lock after his fiancee gave birth to their first child on Tuesday.

“I’m sure Anthony and George will contribute should they come off the bench. Dave Attwood has had an eventful week with the birth of his first child. He’s back with us now and will be ready to go for Saturday,” Lancaster said.

Dan Carter missed out on a place in New Zealand’s match-day 23. The outhalf made his return from serious injury with a 30-minute appearance during New Zealand’s 74-6 victory over the United States in Chicago last weekend.

But All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has decided to take no chances on Carter in a game of such magnitude, with Aaron Cruden wearing the number 10 shirt and Beauden Barrett providing bench cover.

Cruden, fullback Israel Dagg, centre Sonny Bill Williams and number eight Kieran Read are the only players retained on starting duty from five days ago.

Hansen’s team and replacements boast a combined total of more than 1,000 caps.

Among those who return to the starting XV are prolific try-scoring wing Julian Savea, centre Conrad Smith, lock Sam Whitelock and skipper Richie McCaw.

“This Test match is a great opportunity to once again experience the atmosphere of Twickenham and to lay down a marker of where we are currently at in relation to our opponents, England,” Hansen said.

“We are extremely excited about this challenge and looking forward to it immensely.

“Having played England already three times this year, at the beginning of our season, and again having the opportunity to play them at the end of season, will tell us a lot about how much our game has progressed.”

England suffered a 3-0 Test series defeat in New Zealand earlier this year, but they beat the All Blacks 38-21 at Twickenham two years ago after second-half tries from Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton and Manu Tuilagi secured a famous victory.

England: M Brown; S Rokoduguni, B Barritt, K Eastmond, J May ; O Farrell, D Care; J Marler, D Hartley, D Wilson, D Attwood, C Lawes, T Wood, C Robshaw, B Vunipola. Replacements: R Webber, M Mullan, K Brookes, G Kruis, B Morgan, B Youngs, G Ford, A Watson.

New Zealand: I Dagg; B Smith, C Smith, S B Williams, J Savea; A Cruden, A Smith; W Crockett, D Coles, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, R McCaw, K Read. Replacements: K Mealamu, B Franks, C Faumuina, P Tuiipulotu, L Messam, T J Perenara, B Barrett, R Crotty

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