Can the home side win their second Autumn International in a row?
Where: Twickenham, London
When: 14.30 (GMT)
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The old adage of ‘never change a winning side’ is not one England coach Stuart Lancaster paid heed to ahead of Saturday’s match against Argentina at Twickenham.
Fresh from seeing his side come from behind to beat Australia 20-13 at Twickenham last weekend in their opening November clash, Lancaster chose a front row to take on renowned scrummagers Argentina.
David Wilson, Dylan Hartley and Joe Marler, who all came off the bench against the Wallabies, will start against the Pumas.
British and Irish Lions star Alex Corbisiero, fit after a knee injury kept him out of the Australia match, had been tipped to replace now injured prop Mako Vunipola but found himself among the replacements instead.
Corbisiero demolished the Australia front-row during the Lions’ decisive third Test win in Sydney in July, scoring the opening try in a crushing 41-16 victory that sealed a 2-1 triumph.
However, it was Marler, as he’d done during last week’s match, who replaced loosehead prop Vunipola, with hooker Hartley coming in for new father Tom Youngs and Wilson replacing another Lion in Dan Cole.
Lancaster, asked if he was taking a gamble in selecting Wilson ahead of Cole, replied: “No, I don’t think so at all. He was outstanding in Argentina for us in the summer (when England, without all their Lions and rested captain Chris Robshaw, won a two-Test series 2-0) and his good form has continued with Bath this season.
Turning to Argentina’s scrum, Lancaster said: “It is a big part of their game and it will be a great challenge but we’ve got a very good scrum ourselves and a very good bench.
“It’s nice to have those three (Youngs, Cole and Corbisiero) on the bench to come on,” added Lancaster, who will want more of a cutting edge from a back division where the only change sees Ben Foden in on the wing after injuries ruled out both Marland Yarde and Christian Wade.
Argentina, however, are keen to prove there is more to their game than the scrum after finishing bottom of a southern hemisphere Rugby Championship won by world champions New Zealand and also featuring South Africa and Australia.
New coach Daniel Hourcade’s side boasts more than 400 caps, with new captain Juan Manuel Leguizamon, leading the team in the absence of the injured Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, joined by the likes of Leicester loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza and Saracens centre Marcelo Bosch.
“We’re building for the 2015 World Cup (in England) and the young players can learn from the more experienced ones,” Hourcade said.
“We are going to be more offensive and attack England a little bit more than we usually do,” added Hourcade, who took over after Santiago Phelan quit last month.
Lancaster though is targeting a ninth England win in 10 matches this weekend as part of a longer-term plan to have his side move up to second place in the International Rugby Board world rankings by the end of the season.
New Zealand are all but unassailable at the top of the IRB table but Lancaster believes a realistic goal for England is to move up from third and replace South Africa in second place behind the All Blacks.
“If we can keep our winning record up we’ll close the gap. South Africa have to keep winning too. That’s why Argentina is a game we must win,” said Lancaster.
“The reason I use the rankings as a goal is that I like to set performance goals and outcome goals,” he explained.
Head-to-head record between England and Argentina
England wins: 13
Argentina wins: 4
Highest Scores: England 51-0, 1990; Argentina 33-13, 1997
Biggest Wins: England 51-0, 1990; Argentina 33-13, 1997
Last five results
2013 Buenos Aires: ENG 51-26
2013 Salta: ENG 32-3
2011 Dunedin (WC): ENG 13-9
2009 Twickenham: ENG 16-9
2009 Salta: ARG 24-22
Note: WC = World Cup
Teams for the one-off international between England and Argentina
Mike Brown; Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Billy Twelvetrees, Ben Foden; Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Billy Vunipola, Chris Robshaw (capt), Tom Wood; Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury; David Wilson, Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler
Tom Youngs, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Ben Morgan, Danny Care, Toby Flood, Alex Goode
Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino; Horacio Agulla, Marcelo Bosch, Santiago Fernandez, Juan Imhoff; Nicolás Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Juan Manuel Leguizamón (capt), Julio Farías Cabello, Pablo Matera; Patricio Albacete, Mariano Galarza; Maximiliano Bustos, Eusebio Guiñazú, Marcos Ayerza
Santiago Iglesias Valdez, Nahuel Lobo, Juan Pablo Orlandi, Manuel Carizza, Benjamín Macome, Martín Landajo, Gonzalo Tiesi, Santiago Cordero
Referee: Pascal Guazere (FRA)