Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Mathew Tait, left, is one of six changes to England's starting line-up since their last match against New Zealand in November.
Mathew Tait, left, is one of six changes to England's starting line-up since their last match against New Zealand in November.

Tait in to add flair to England backline

The Sale centre joins Riki Flutey in the England midfield ahead of their opening Six Nations match again Wales.

BAGSHOT, ENGLAND // Martin Johnson announced the most exciting backline of his tenure as England manager as he looks to start the Six Nations with a bang against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday. Johnson has recalled the mercurial Mathew Tait alongside the fit-again Riki Flutey in a new-look centre partnership with Delon Armitage restored to fullback after he, like Flutey, missed the November internationals.

Danny Care is restored at scrum-half ahead of Paul Hodgson with the No 8 James Haskell and the prop David Wilson recalled. The selection marks something of a change of emphasis for Johnson, who said he and his coaching team had been too prescriptive in previous matches and needed to give his backs more freedom. Tait has 32 caps but only 15 as a starter as successive England coaches have picked and discarded him.

The Sale centre, who made a memorable debut against Wales as a teenager five years ago when he was twice spectacularly dumped on his back by Gavin Henson, has featured at wing and fullback since during an in-and-out career. His eye for a break and silky running was seen at its best in the 2007 World Cup final when he set up Mark Cueto for the try that was ruled out by the video referee. Saturday will represent only his second start since that Springbok defeat in Paris.

Flutey's return should help Tait and fans will hope it also helps Jonny Wilkinson sharpen up his distribution. Armitage, one of England's stand-out performers in the last Six Nations, is another welcome return at fullback, where England struggled in November. Injury ruled out Courtney Lawes and his place on the bench is taken by Louis Deacon, while the uncapped prop Dan Cole is also named among the replacements.

England, seeking to avoid a fourth successive defeat against Wales, face a stiff task in the scrum where their trio of Tim Payne, Dylan Hartley and David Wilson, with just 33 caps between them, will have to be at their best to handle Wales's all-British Lions front row of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones. Wales have delayed the naming of their team until after today's appeal by fullback Lee Byrne against his suspension.

* Reuters

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was kicking off at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with plenty of excitement in store. Ravindranath K / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The first match in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, was held at Zayed Cricket Stadium amid plenty of colour.

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike qualifies Al Jazira for last 16 of Asian Champions League

A dramatic late goal gave Al Jazira a 3-2 victory at Al Rayyan of Qatar in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday night and it was just enough to push Walter Zenga’s side into the knockout stages.

 Zayed Cricket Stadium had not witnessed so electrcic an atmosphere before Wednesday evening. Pawan Singh / The National

Packed house gathers in Abu Dhabi for Indian Premier League opener

In less than half a day, Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed the force that is Indian cricket, with the sound drowning out the controversies that have dogged the Twenty20 tournament, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks down after being defeated during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images

Plenty of life still in Barcelona, says Gerardo Martino

Barcelona coach maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

 Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg at the official press conference following qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1: Toto Wolff says Mercedes have all the right ingredients in place

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far dominated the first three grands prix going into this weekend’s fourth round in China.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, left, reacts as Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2014. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. AFP PHOTO/Andrew YATES

Poyet says ‘I am sure that Luis Suarez is going to be happy’ after Sunderland draw at Manchester City

Sunderland’s survival chances remain slim because now they face Chelsea away at the weekend but manager Gus Poyet insists they are not trying to benefit Liverpool or his fellow Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National