x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Johnson banks on Shaw thing

The veteran Wasps lock will make his first start for England under Martin Johnson against France at Twickenham.

Simon Shaw, left, replaces Nick Kennedy in the England second row for the France match on Saturday.
Simon Shaw, left, replaces Nick Kennedy in the England second row for the France match on Saturday.

Martin Johnson, England's under-pressure team manager, has attempted to solve his side's chronic disciplinary problems by recalling Simon Shaw, one of only four England players to have been sent off in a Test match. Shaw, who turns 36 in September, has been recalled at the expense of Nick Kennedy to partner the captain Steve Borthwick in a meaty second-row union. Shaw's giant frame and fiery temperament have led to comparisons to Johnson himself, but the England supremo will demand the Wasps lock keeps his cool on Sunday. The disciplinary microscope has been on England throughout the Six Nations. They conceded 17 penalties against Ireland at Croke Park in their last outing and the sin-binnings of Phil Vickery and Danny Care took the total number of yellow cards to a staggering 10 in four matches. Shaw controversially saw red against New Zealand in 2004 for kneeing Keith Robinson and knows he can ill-afford another moment of madness this weekend. James Haskell, Shaw's Wasps teammate, who conceded a needless penalty against Ireland and was sin-binned against Italy, has been dropped, with Leicester's in-form flanker Tom Croft getting the nod at blindside. In the other change, Harlequins winger Ugo Monye returns to the side in place of Paul Sackey, who is unavailable after suffering a calf injury. Danny Care, who was sin-binned for a petulant barge on Marcus Horan at a crucial stage in Dublin, has survived calls for his head and retains his place on the bench. Gloucester loose forward Luke Narraway has dropped out of the squad altogether after earning a place on the bench against Ireland at Croke Park, while there again no place in the 22 for Danny Cipriani, who was considered the golden boy of English rugby. Former England fly-half Mike Catt is not surprised that Cipriani has been deposed and was unimpressed the Wasps No 10 rejected his handshake following the Guinness Premiership match between Wasps and London Irish on Sunday. "If people want to make a big thing of what happened at the end of Sunday's game, that's up to them but I'm not," said Catt, the player coach at Irish. "He can do what he wants, I don't care. It's no skin off my nose, believe me. I now understand what Will Greenwood was saying." Greenwood, the former England centre, said he believed that Cipriani's personality may have had something to do with his England exclusion. "I understand why Josh Lewsey knocked him out," added Catt. "Before the Six Nations began, I was asked a question: "Do you think Danny Cipriani is playing well enough to be in the England team?" I said no. "That's all I said. I didn't say he was a bad rugby player. I've been criticised numerous times in my career but these young guys don't really seem to take criticism, not that I criticised him in any shape or form. "What he achieved last season was pretty amazing for a fly-half and I praised him to the hilt. But he's not playing well at the moment." Borthwick has also come in for criticism but he has retained the captaincy amid question marks over his leadership skills. He revealed the squad have borne the brunt of Johnson's ire this week. "Martin Johnson has been forthright with us, he was rightly furious," said Borthwick. "I want England supporters to know there is an incredible sense of frustration among all the players following our narrow loss to Ireland. "I know the supporters have heard this all before, but we must immediately get a grip on our discipline." Borthwick, Johnson's on-field lieutenant, has been challenged to solve England's disciplinary woes. In the nine Tests since Borthwick took over as captain, England have had 13 players sent to the sin-bin. "There has inevitably been a lot of criticism flying around but I feel good about my own game," said Borthwick, whose club future at Saracens is in doubt following the South African takeover at Vicarage Road. "With the help of the senior players, I believe I am captaining the side well. It continues to be a fantastic honour." * With agencies