England v Fiji at Twickenham on November 10th 2012

06/11/2012 no comments »
England v Fiji at Twickenham on November 10th 2012

In a few days time it will be the opening weekend of the QBE Autumn Internationals where it will feature all the top teams from world rugby. England will be finalising their preparations this week as they face Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand at Twickenham over consecutive weekends; with the first fixture being against Fiji on November 10th.

England

Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, is due to name his team on Thursday for the Fiji game but he has a major injury crisis and the number of people ruled out for Saturdays game is pushing double figures. Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes have both been ruled out of the match on November 10 with knee injuries while Jonathan Joseph is rated as doubtful after damaging his ankle last weekend. These injuries open the way for Barrit and Manu Tuilagi to earn a starting place and they could reform their blossoming partnership that was in full flow last summer. Chris Ashton is another player who joins a lengthening list of absentees from the Fiji game, but not due to injury, he has been handed a suspension by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel. Ashton was banned for one week after being cited for a dangerous tackle on Northamtpon winger Vasily Artemyev. Fortunately for England, he will be available again for the autumn tests against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Ashton’s suspension opens the way for Ugo Monye and Charlie Sharples to be England’s likely starting wings against Fiji.

Fiji

The opposition, Fiji, are boosted by Gloucester’s Akapusi Qera, arguably the stand-out back-row in the Premiership at present. Both Qera and Exeter’s Sireli Naqelevuki were handed a call up rather late as similar to England, the Fijian team also have a injury-hit squad. The immediate challenge facing Stuart Lancaster and his team is to win on four successive weekends but Lancaster also has to keep an eye on the overall International Rugby Board rankings which will dictate their 2015 Rugby World Cup pool draw. If England are in the top four in the standings on 3rd December, they will avoid a pool meeting with the southern hemisphere’s biggest fish.

Despite the long absentee list, the optimism is still coursing through the veins of Lancaster’s squad, and that is a testament to the strength in depth available to England and the attitude that the head coach and his team have instilled in to the squad since taking over. Everyone in England’s camp will be hoping for a perfect start to the Autumn Internationals with a victory against Fiji in front of an expected sell-out crowd of 80,000 at Twickenham. Along with the on-field entertainment, the crowd can also expect to see some seasonal fireworks!

Twickenham Stadium London Rugby Football Union

Twickenham Stadium London – Home of Rugby Football Union

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