NEWS

May set to replace Rokoduguni for England against Argentina

November 23, 2016

England's matchday squad has been named for this Saturday's Old Mutual International match against Argentina at Twickenham, with 24 of the squad that were called up for last week's game against Fiji being retained.

However, one notable absence is Semesa Rokoduguni, who has been omitted despite scoring two tries and winning the man-of-the-match award against the land of his birth in England's 58-15 win. It was only his second cap, having made his debut in 2014.

Winger Johnny May is back in the squad and is expected to take Rokoduguni's place. Also back are flanker Tom Wood and the fit-again George Kruis, who could return after missing the matches against South Africa and Fiji with injury. Joe Launchbury is missing as he serves a two-week suspension.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, assistant coach Paul Gustard said: "Roko acquitted himself pretty well, and this is one game he is not chosen for. It is not a reflection of anything that will come after that."

He added: "He's had a good chat with Eddie and he knows where he stands, and [he knows] the areas of improvement [he needs to look at].

"We need to exploit the opportunities we think Argentina will present, and counter any threats they may have. Roko's exclusion - like Jonny May's from round one to round two - is indicative of that."

England's ruthlessness in selection indicates that the management is leaving no stone unturned as it seeks continual improvement, even though the side has now won all 11 matches played under Jones. With the team having won its last match under previous coach Stuart Lancaster - the final Rugby World Cup pool game against Uruguay in Manchester last year - victory over the Pumas and against Australia on December 3rd would leave England on 13 straight wins. They would then need a second successive Six Nations Grand Slam to overtake the world record of 18 successive international victories set by New Zealand this year.  

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the Australia game will hope the inclusion of May will help secure victory over the World Cup semi-finalists on Saturday, but they will also know the Wallabies will be keen for revenge after England's 3-0 whitewash during the summer tour.

Having knocked England out of their own World Cup at Twickenham just over a year ago, Australia will hope for another spectacular performance. While they were unable to overcome the mighty All Blacks in last year's final, they did show what a strong side they had become under Michael Chieka.

Speaking to the BBC, Chieka said that blooding new players against Jones's tourists and in the Rugby Championship has been a difficult experience, and he has had to "restart" the side since then with a view to getting Australia back to the top.

He remarked: "When the new guys started coming in, from a mental perspective, maybe I tried to continue on and didn't understand that maybe they and the other players who had gone back to their Super Rugby sides had to be either reminded of the project or introduced to it for the first time.

"We needed to go back to zero and the players told who we are and how we represent Australia and buy into the project again."

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