England have thrown caution to the wind and made five changes ahead of the second Test against New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday.
The biggest call sees Manu Tuilagi start on the wing while Billy Twelvetrees, Luther Burrell, Danny Care, Owen Farrell and Tom Wood also get the nod.
Tuilagi’s inclusion comes at the expense of Jonny May who drops out of the matchday squad and is a huge call on Stuart Lancaster’s part. Tuilagi played on the wing against Australia back in 2010 for Leicester but he has never started a match there for England. Despite his inexperience on the flank, Lancaster is adamant Tuilagi is ready to do a job for England.
“He’s looking forward to it,” Lancaster said of Tuilagi. “We had a long chat with him about it. I sat down and spoke to him a couple of times. He just wanted to be clear in his own mind about the position stuff, particularly the backfield stuff.
“Once he understood that and his role in the team and he ran through it training because we had Monday and Tuesday when we continually played against each other and with 45 players there is plenty of opposition. The longer it’s gone on the more comfortable he’s felt. There’s tomorrow’s [Thursday] session to really finalise it as well.
“On the flip side once he saw and everybody saw the potency of our strike players, he’s a great team player Manu and he was happy to do what’s best for the team.”
At half-back Care returns from injury and joins Farrell with Ben Youngs and Freddie Burns dropping to the bench. Twelvetrees and Burrell continue their Six Nations partnership with Marland Yarde and Mike Brown keeping their spots in the back three.
In the forwards, Rob Webber’s performance at Eden Park has seen him keep his spot at hooker with Dylan Hartley on the bench. Joe Marler and David Wilson pack down alongside Webber.
In the second-rows Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling continue while Ben Morgan has done enough to keep his place in the side at No.8 with Wood and Chris Robshaw alongside him.
The bench features seven changes with uncapped prop Kieran Brookes getting the nod ahead of Henry Thomas with Matt Mullan and Hartley completing the front-row options. Courtney Lawes and Billy Vunipola will hope to make an impact at some stage with Burns and Youngs covering the half-backs. Chris Ashton is also named and he could make his first appearance for England since the 2013 autumn internationals.
“The side we have gone for is certainly an exciting side, it’s one we have been wanting to look at for a while and it’s given us some great options,” Lancaster said. “I think one of the key things to consider as well is we feel that the game is going to take the full 80 to win and part of the selection has been the make-up of the bench, to make sure that obviously particularly the likes of Dylan, Courtney and Billy Vunipola in that 50-60 minutes time bring a huge amount of energy from the bench and hopefully see us home.”
Mike Brown (Harlequins), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Rob Webber (Bath), David Wilson (Bath), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), Ben Morgan (Gloucester)
Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers), Chris Ashton (Saracens)