DURBAN (Reuters) - England have handed a first start to New Zealand-born forward Brad Shields as a replacement for Chris Robshaw at flank, while flyhalf Danny Cipriani is on the bench for the crucial second test against South Africa in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The selection of Shields in the squad for the three-match tour had drawn some criticism as the 27-year-old has never played club rugby in England but qualified to represent the country through his parents.
He earned a first cap off the bench in the thrilling 42-39 loss to the Springboks at Ellis Park last weekend and now gets a chance from the start in one of two changes to the run-on XV by coach Eddie Jones that also sees Joe Launchbury return at lock for the ineffective Nick Isiekwe.
“Based on South Africa’s likely selection of an extra lineout jumper we have decided to start with Brad Shields, which improves our lineout. It is tough on Chris Robshaw as he has been an outstanding player for us but I know he will bounce back,” Jones said in a media release from England Rugby on Thursday.
Launchbury has recovered from a calf injury that had kept him out of the first test, while Cipriani could play his first test since 2015.
“Danny Cipriani will come onto the bench as we are looking for something a little bit different to finish the game, which he can bring. He’s been training well and doing everything that has been asked of him,” Jones said.
England have lost their last four test matches but Jones believes the good work they have put into training this week can see them end that barren run.
“The way the team have come together has been superb. (Captain) Owen Farrell, with a number of the senior players, has really moulded the squad together. They are working hard to improve their game to make sure we win.”
The third and final test will be in Cape Town on June 23.
15-Elliot Daly, 14-Jonny May, 13-Henry Slade, 12-Owen Farrell (captain), 11-Mike Brown, 10-George Ford, 9-Ben Youngs, 8-Billy Vunipola, 7-Tom Curry, 6-Brad Shields, 5-Maro Itoje, 4-Joe Launchbury, 3-Kyle Sinckler, 2-Jamie George, 1-Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Joe Marler, 18-Harry Williams, 19-Mark Wilson, 20-Nathan Hughes, 21-Ben Spencer, 22-Danny Cipriani, 23-Denny Solomona
Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris