England v South Africa: Brad Shields in as England drop Chris Robshaw


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South Africa v England – second Test
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein Date: Saturday, 16 June Kick-off: 16:05 BST
Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website and mobile app.

Flanker Brad Shields will make his first England start in Saturday’s second Test against South Africa in Bloemfontein, with Chris Robshaw dropped from the matchday squad.

New-Zealand born Shields, 27, was fast-tracked into the set-up by head coach Eddie Jones and made his debut off the bench in the first-Test defeat.

Danny Cipriani is a replacement, and is set for his first cap since 2015.

“It’s tough on Chris Robshaw, he’s been outstanding for us,” said Jones.

“But I know he will bounce back.

“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.”

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The other change sees lock Joe Launchbury return to the starting XV after recovering from a calf injury at the expense of Nick Isiekwe, who was replaced in the first half at Ellis Park and drops out of the 23.

The selection of Shields for the tour of South Africa was a controversial one, with the Rugby Football Union having to negotiate his release from the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Shields qualifies for England through his parents, but represented New Zealand at under-20 level and was on the brink of winning an All Blacks cap last year.

He is still contracted to Super Rugby side Hurricanes, and will return to Wellington after the tour before his move to Wasps at the end of the year.

Shields paid tribute to the Hurricanes, but said he had “always known England was an option” for him.

“I didn’t think it was going to come this early but I’m grateful for the opportunity,” he added.

Asked if he feels English, he replied: “Of course, it’s in my blood, it’s in my heritage. Even though I was born in New Zealand my grandparents were very English, my parents let us know where we were from, and they’ve obviously moved back to England now.

“I grew up in New Zealand and every kid’s dream was to play for the All Blacks, but that path didn’t work out for me and I’ve always known since I started playing rugby that I had this opportunity [to play for England].

“It just feels right being here and feels right playing for this team.”

Shields told BBC Sport “words can’t describe” how it feels to be an international rugby player.

“Just to be in the team is pretty unreal – to be able to start is a feeling you can’t really describe. It’s every rugby player’s dream to be at the pinnacle of their sport. I am massively appreciative,” he added.

He replaces former England captain Chris Robshaw – dropped for the first time during Jones’ reign – in the number six shirt and revealed: “Chris Robshaw was the first one to congratulate me and shake my hand.

“To be rubbing shoulders with guys like him, legends of English rugby, is pretty amazing. I have loan of that jersey for the weekend and they are pretty big shoes to fill. I won’t let that jersey down.”

England team to face South Africa: Elliot Daly (Wasps); Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins); George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Jamie George (Saracens), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Brad Shields (Hurricanes/Wasps), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Ben Spencer (Saracens), Danny Cipriani (Wasps), Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks)

South Africa: Willie le Roux (Wasps); S’busiso Nkosi (Sharks), Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Aphiwe Dyantyi (Lions); Handre Pollard (Bulls), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks); Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), RG Snyman (Bulls), Franco Mostert (Lions), Siya Kolisi (Stormers), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers), Duane Vermeulen (unattached).

Replacements: Akker van der Merwe (Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Thomas du Toit (Sharks), Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Stormers), Ivan van Zyl (Bulls), Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Warrick Gelant (Bulls).

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