Lancaster welcomes Youngs into fold for first autumn international

Leicester hooker Tom Youngs will make his Test debut against Fiji on Saturday after being confirmed in one of the most inexperienced England sides of the professional era. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire
Leicester hooker Tom Youngs will make his Test debut against Fiji on Saturday after being confirmed in one of the most inexperienced England sides of the professional era. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire
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Stuart Lancaster has described the autumn series as the time to “execute and deliver” after making five changes to the side that drew in South Africa in June.

England play Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand over the next four Saturdays.

Leicester hooker Tom Youngs will make his Test debut against Fiji after being confirmed in one of the most inexperienced England sides of the professional era.

Youngs will take over the hooking duties from Dylan Hartley, who has been sidelined with a knee injury which threatens to keep him out of England’s entire QBE autumn international series.

Ugo Monye will make his England comeback on the left wing in place of the injured Ben Foden, while Charlie Sharples deputiseS for the suspended Chris Ashton on the right wing.

Alex Goode continues at full-back while Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi link up in a hard-hitting centre partnership, with Toby Flood and Danny Care the half-backs.

There are a total of five changes from the 14-14 draw with South Africa in the summer, with Chris Robshaw back to captain the side after missing that Test with a broken hand.

Tom Johnson continues at blindside flanker after making his Test debut on the summer tour, while Tom Wood returns to the England fold after 14 injury-plagued months with a place on the bench.

The uncapped pair of Saracens prop Mako Vunipola and Wasps lock Joe Launchbury are primed to make their Test debuts off the bench.

Flood is the most experienced player in the England side with 50 caps. The combined total of England’s starting line-up is just 215.

Lancaster said: “This QBE International series will be a real marker of where we are as a squad.

“We are playing four back-to-back matches in four weeks against the top teams in the world and we are confident we can rise to the challenge.

“The foundations are in place, now it’s time for us to execute and deliver.

“Fiji is a good first Test for us and we can’t wait to play back at Twickenham.

“The atmosphere against Ireland back in March was superb and you can’t underestimate what it means to the players to have 82,000 people and the nation behind them.

“Congratulations to Tom Youngs, who has made a great transition from centre to hooker in a short period and deserves his chance, as do Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola, who we are pleased to be able to include in the squad.”

England: Alex Goode, Charlie Sharples, Manusamoa Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Ugo Monye, Toby Flood, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Tom Palmer, Geoff Parling, Tom Johnson, Chris Robshaw, Thomas Waldron.

Replacements: David Paice, David Wilson, Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury, Tom Wood, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Mike Brown.