Late Lions chance for trio

England trio Tom Croft, Ugo Monye and Simon Shaw have been given a late chance to impress on the international stage just a month-and-a-half away from the squad announcement for this summer's Lions tour. [more]

Late Lions chance for trio

England trio Tom Croft, Ugo Monye and Simon Shaw have been given a late chance to impress on the international stage just a month-and-a-half away from the squad announcement for this summer’s Lions tour.

The Leicester back row, Harlequins wing and Wasps lock have yet to start a match in the current Six Nations championship but have now been given an opportunity to remind Ian McGeechan exactly what they can do at the highest level.

Croft burst on to the international scene this time last year and has since been talked about as a possible Lions tourist, with many supporters believing his pace and athleticism would be ideally suited to the hard grounds of South Africa.

Shaw toured with the Lions the last time they visited the Republic back in 1997 and was also a member of the 2005 touring party to New Zealand. The 35-year-old has dropped behind Nick Kennedy in the England pecking order during recent weeks but has now replaced his London Irish counterpart in Martin Johnson’s starting XV for Saturday’s Twickenham clash with France.

One of his country’s more consistent performers during the autumn internationals, in which he played in each of the fixtures, Monye has been absent from the games against Italy, Wales and Ireland due to a back injury.

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The former England Sevens star now returns to the side in place of Paul Sackey and will be looking to press his claims to become a Lion despite only having four international caps to his name.

Wasps wing Sackey is currently struggling with a calf injury but Johnson admitted that he would have missed out to Monye regardless of his lack of fitness.

"He (Sackey) has got an injury but we wanted to make the change," said Johnson. "We feel Paul has not quite been on his game. There are times he has showed, and times he has not quite been there.

"We have good options there and Mathew Tait has been in good form but we went with a specialist winger in Ugo.

"He has had injury problems but has come back and looked strong and sharp."

England 

Delon Armitage (London Irish); Mark Cueto (Sale), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Riki Flutey (Wasps), Ugo Monye (Harlequins); Toby Flood (Leicester), Harry Ellis (Leicester); Andrew Sheridan (Sale), Lee Mears (Bath), Phil Vickery (Wasps), Simon Shaw (Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Saracens), Tom Croft (Leicester), Joe Worsley (Wasps), Nick Easter (Harlequins)

Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Julian White (Leicester), Nick Kennedy (London Irish), James Haskell (Wasps), Danny Care (Harlequins), Andy Goode (Brive), Mathew Tait (Sale)

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