Danny Cipriani was dropped to the bench with Toby Flood drafted in to start at fly half against New Zealand.
Flood replaces Cipriani for NZ Test
BAGSHOT, ENGLAND // Danny Cipriani was dropped to the bench with Toby Flood drafted in to start at fly half against New Zealand on Saturday in one of three changes to the England team named by the manager Martin Johnson. Cipriani was widely criticised for his performance in last Saturday's 42-6 defeat by South Africa when, for the third time, he gave away a try with a charged-down kick. Leicester's Flood has 21 caps, 11 of them as replacement, but has usually operated at centre.
The two other changes announced are in the pack where Nick Kennedy, who scored a try on debut against the Pacific Islanders but was subsequently overlooked, comes back in for Tom Palmer, who has a calf injury, and Michael Lipman replaces Tom Rees. Rees drops to the bench but Palmer and his replacement during Saturday's match, Simon Shaw, are out of the 22-man squad as Johnson reverts to a more traditional 4/3 split of forwards and backs by adding the centre Dan Hipkiss to the bench.
There is no specialist lock on the bench but Tom Croft adds a line-out option. The New Zealand-born Riki Flutey has recovered from a hamstring strain to start at inside centre but Andrew Sheridan failed to recover from the neck injury that ruled him out of the Springbok game leaving Tim Payne to again start at loose head prop. "We picked the team we thought gave us the best chance of winning," Johnson said. "Danny is still involved, he's on the bench, but it gives Toby a chance to show what he can do.
"I'm sure Danny has a long international future ahead of him, it's not a finite decision. This whole series is a squad effort and the bench plays an important part in any game these days." Johnson said that Rees had his best game of the November international season last Saturday. "But he's started all three and we wanted to give Mike a start," he added. England need an unlikely victory to reclaim a place in the top four of the world rankings and a top-four seeding in next Monday's draw for the 2011 World Cup.
New Zealand need a win to secure their third grand slam having already beaten Scotland, Wales and Ireland. *Reuters