Lancaster wants fresh faces to help fire England
STUART Lancaster has handed Joe Launchbury his first international start as part of England's "eight enforcers", a new-look pack charged with meeting South Africa's physical challenge head on.
Launchbury is one of six changes Lancaster has made from last weekend's 20-14 defeat to Australia, with Alex Corbisiero, Tom Wood and Ben Morgan joining him in a beefed-up forward unit for tomorrow's Twickenham encounter.
Ben Youngs edged the scrum-half debate, reclaiming the shirt from Danny Care, and Mike Brown will start on the wing.
Launchbury is seen as England's version of Eben Etzebeth, the 21-year-old South Africa lock singled out this week by coach Heyneke Meyer as one of the Springboks' key hard men.
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Etzebeth only made his Test debut against England in June but Meyer, the former Leicester director of rugby, already rates him as one of the world's best second-row forwards.
Tellingly, Lancaster did not shy away from the comparisons, but he warned England would need more than just Launchbury's power and dynamism if they are to douse the Springbok ferocity.
"I remember watching Etzebeth at the under-20s World Cup. He has been destined to be a Springbok for a long time. Joe's journey has been different, but he is ready for this challenge," said Lancaster.
The Springbok physicality is nothing new for Launchbury, who spent an eye-opening six-week placement with the Eastern Kings in Port Elizabeth before joining Wasps.
"As a 19-year-old kid I really learned about the physicality they bring to everything they do. It was huge," he said.
"On my first day I turned up and was told it was live scrums and mauls at 8 o'clock next morning.
"It was a bit of a culture shock, but by the end of the six weeks I was absolutely loving it."
England: Goode (Saracens); Ashton (Saracens), Tuilagi (Leicester), Barritt (Saracens), Brown (Harlequins); Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); Corbisiero (London Irish), T Youngs (Leicester), Cole (Leicester), Launchbury (Wasps), Parling (Leicester), Wood (Northampton), Robshaw (Harlequins), Morgan (Gloucester). Replacements: Paice (London Irish), Wilson (Bath), Vunipola (Saracens), Botha (Saracens), Haskell (Wasps), Care (Harlequins), Farrell (Saracens), Joseph (London Irish).