Saints flanker Wood wins bench spot for England


Saints flanker Tom Wood will start on the bench for England when they kick-off their autumn international against Fiji on Saturday.

Exeter’s Tom Johnson, Leicester’s Thomas Waldrom and Harlequins skipper Chris Robshaw, who captains the red rose side, get the nod in the back row.

Wood is the only Saints representative in England’s matchday 23 as Courtney Lawes, Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley are injured, while Lee Dickson and Phil Dowson have not been retained.

Leicester’s Tom Young will make his international debut in place of Hartley at hooker, as England boss Stuart Lancaster makes five changes to the side which started the final Test against South Africa during the summer.

Gloucester’s Charlie Sharples comes in on the right wing for suspended former Saint Chris Ashton and Ugo Monye replaces Foden on the left.

“This QBE International series will be a real marker of where we are as a squad,” said Lancaster.

“We are playing four back-to-back matches in four weeks against the top teams in the world and we are confident we can rise to the challenge.

“The foundations are in place, now it’s time for us to execute and deliver.

“Fiji is a good first Test for us and we can’t wait to play back at Twickenham. The atmosphere against Ireland back in March was superb and you can’t underestimate what it means to the players to have 82,000 people and the nation behind them.

“Congratulations to Tom Youngs, who has made a great transition from centre to hooker in a short period and deserves his chance, as do Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola, who we are pleased to be able to include in the squad.”