LONDON (Reuters) – Fijian-born winger Semesa Rokoduguni was named in the England team on Thursday and will make his debut in Saturday’s test against New Zealand at Twickenham.
Kyle Eastmond and Brad Barritt form a new-look centre partnership, while Dave Attwood replaces the injured Joe Launchbury in the second row after returning to the squad following the birth of his first child.
“I am delighted for Roko,” England coach Stuart Lancaster said of the 27-year-old British army soldier.
“It’s a great step for him. He has topped the stats in virtually every category and looks ready to play.”
Lancaster, who led England to a famous 38-21 win over the All Blacks in 2012 but three successive defeats in New Zealand this year, described playing the world champions as rugby’s ultimate test.
“We are at home against a very high quality team but we’ve got belief in our team as well,” he told a news conference.
“They are strong across the board, very experienced and with world-class players in a lot of positions.
“But it’s not dissimilar to the side we played in the summer, the side we played this time last year or two years ago and, on each occasion, we either won or pushed them close.”
Lock George Kruis and back Anthony Watson were named on the replacements’ bench and could make their England debuts on their home ground. Owen Farrell was selected at flyhalf ahead of George Ford despite struggling with a thigh strain this season.
“George has had a great season as well but Owen has been excellent in training,” Lancaster said. “George will continue to push him and his opportunity will come at some point.”