England head coach Stuart Lancaster feels Owen Farrell could still have a big part to play in tomorrow’s second Test against South Africa.
The Saracens playmaker has been dropped to the bench by Lancaster for the clash at Johannesburg’s Coca-Cola Park with Leicester’s Toby Flood restored at fly-half.
Despite kicking four penalties, Farrell had an indifferent game in the first Test loss in Durban and Lancaster has decided a change is necessary to bring England back into the three-match series.
Lancaster said: “Owen misses out and moves to the bench, but I am sure he will make a big impact on the game as it goes on.
“He has started in every one of the seven games I have been in charge and he has got a fantastic future ahead of him. He was disappointed when he heard the news but his training has been outstanding. I am really pleased with the reaction.
“I am sure he will play a big part in the game and in the future as well.”
Flood will be England’s most experienced player on the field as he wins his 49th cap but he is yet to make his mark in Lancaster’s new-look side due to injury. A knee problem ruined his chances of playing in the RBS 6 Nations earlier this year before groin and ankle problems ended his domestic season prematurely.
He was used as a second-half substitute last weekend in place of injured centre Brad Barritt but Lancaster feels it is now time to pair him with Tigers team-mate Ben Youngs in the halves.
Lancaster said: “He is a very experienced player for us coming into this game.”
Lancaster’s selection is a bold one with Tuilagi taking Barritt’s place at inside centre and London Irish youngster Jonathan Joseph coming in for his first start as the No 13.
Elsewhere in the backline, Ben Foden reverts to full-back in place of the injured Mike Brown with David Strettle returning on the left wing.
England team: B Foden (Northampton); C Ashton (Northampton), J Joseph (London Irish), M Tuilagi (Leicester), D Strettle (Saracens); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), M Botha (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester), T Johnson (Exeter), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Scarlets).
Replacements: L Mears (Bath), A Corbisiero (London Irish), T Palmer (Stade Francais), P Dowson (Northampton), L Dickson (Northampton), O Farrell (Saracens), A Goode (Saracens).