QBE Internationals: The best of the build-up ahead of the Twickenham double header
Last Updated: 14/11/13 12:29pm
There is set to be a thrilling afternoon of world-class rugby at Twickenham on Saturday, with England's men and women both in action.
Stuart Lancaster's side, fresh from their 20-13 success over Australia, will face Argentina for a third time in 2013, while the women's team will tackle their French counterparts - with both games being shown live on Sky Sports 2 HD & Sky 3D from 1.30pm.
England have already beaten the Pumas twice this year, with a young side - missing a number of players - winning back-to-back Tests in Argentina in the summer.
However the Pumas are not a side to be underestimated, having inflicted a famous 25-18 defeat on England at Twickenham in 2006.
England Women will have Maggie Alphonsi back in their ranks as they look to avenge their 30-20 defeat against Les Bleus from this season's Six Nations.
And ahead of the feast of international rugby, we bring you all the latest news, views, video and opinion.
Foden aims to stake his claim
Ben Foden is determined to stake a claim for a regular place in the England starting line-up when he faces Argentina on Saturday. "It's been a while since I put on the white shirt and ran out at Twickenham," said the 28-year-old, who insists he can make the adjustment to being on the wing having won the majority of his England caps at full-back. "Obviously doing it in the winger shirt not the full-back shirt is a little bit different but I've done it before and hopefully I can justify Stuart's confidence in me. I think that any opportunity to put on the shirt and play for England as a professional rugby player is anyone's dream, especially on the wing."
The performance of Billy Vunipola was one of the positives to come out of England's win against Australia, but the Saracens No 8 says the credit has to be shared across the whole of the back row. "Playing at Twickenham is just an awesome experience, being at a packed out Twickenham with so many English fans was just incredible and I did feel a bit overwhelmed," Vunipola told. "But then to look over and share that with my brother just topped off a fantastic evening - he just gave me a nod and it calmed me. To get a win over Australia is always good and the way we came back showed to the boys that we do play for each other and trust each other.
Morgan eyes Pumas test
Ben Morgan is relishing the chance to have another go at Argentina after finding out first-hand how tough they are to play against over the summer. "They've just got a new coach so they'll be experimenting with different things, you can't look too much at results you have to look at the way they play - they're changing the way they're playing," Morgan told Sky Sports News Radio. "They're getting much better and it's going to be a big physical challenge, I can speak from the summer playing out there they were both really physical games. "They're a massively proud nation and that really lifts them going into a game - there's a lot of emotion, a lot of passion and you really notice that when you play in their back yard."
Building on success
Joe Launchbury says England have learnt a lot from their scrappy win against Australia. "We know we can step up a lot and are looking forward to taking on Argentina this weekend," said the 22 year-old lock. "We obviously played Argentina in the summer but I believe the team that we will meet this weekend will be completely different. It will be a whole new challenge as they have just come out of the Rugby Championship where I believed they acquitted themselves very well. They are big boys and they like the physical stuff so it's going to be a big challenge for us and we have worked hard on that aspect in training. Saturday will be a big test for us as a pack and we really want to get a good platform for our backs."
Lancaster hopeful over Wade
England boss Stuart Lancaster is confident that Christian Wade will be available to face New Zealand next week. The Wasps winger was widely expected to replace Chris Ashton in the starting XV to face Argentina on Saturday, but he has been ruled out after suffering a hamstring strain in training. "There was a good chance Christian was going to start," Lancaster said. "He trained in the squad on Tuesday afternoon, but unfortunately his hamstring tightened up as he reached down for a ball. It's a grade one hamstring injury, so he's probably going to be alright by Sunday or Monday, so there's a good chance he'll be available for the New Zealand game."
England team news
Christian Wade and Marland Yarde have both been ruled out of England's QBE International against Argentina on Saturday. Injuries to the wingers have allowed Chris Ashton to retain the No 14 jersey, while Ben Foden will start on the left wing in place of Yarde as Stuart Lancaster made four changes to his starting line-up. Joining Foden in the line-up will be an all-new front row, with Joe Marler and David Wilson packing down either side of Dylan Hartley, while prop Alex Corbisiero is among the replacements as he returns from a knee injury. Lancaster has been forced into a late change with Danny Care replacing the injured Ben Youngs on the bench.
Hold your nerve!
Dewi Morris says criticism of England is unfair because they are moving in the right direction. "Stuart Lancaster has stood by his young players for Argentina and I think it is the right call," said Morris. "He has made a few changes - and would have made a couple more if it wasn't for injuries. Lancaster is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't really, if he makes wholesale changes then he is accused of not knowing what his team is and not giving players a chance. As far as the change he has made, well I think it is great that England can bring in a whole new front row - it really shows strength in depth and that is what you need - rugby is a 23-man game now and you need three front rowers on the bench who are equally as good as the three who start."
Room for progress
Stuart Barnes says England's performance against Australia won't have worried New Zealand. Barnes said: "A good win for England but for 50 minutes that was an unashamedly ugly game of rugby; this was an afternoon where the result eclipsed the performance, which is just as well. A repeat performance on Saturday will take them close to winning with something to spare against an Argentine team hammered by the loss of Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe but a New Zealand ravenous for revenge would tear this sort of English effort to pieces. So would South Africa and Wales for that matter."
England Women v France
Katy McLean will captain England on Saturday when they kick off their Autumn International Series against France at Twickenham - live on Sky Sports. The Darlington Mowden Park Sharks' fly-half, who has 62 caps, takes over the captaincy from Sarah Hunter who has been ruled out of the two-match series due to injury. Other absentees include Emily Scarratt, Katherine Merchant, Danielle Waterman and Heather Fisher all of whom will also miss the second game, against Canada on November 13. One positive for England is the return of Saracen flanker Margaret Alphonsi in the starting line-up for the first time since March 2012.
The Machine is back
It's been a long-time standing on the side lines for England's most recognisable women's rugby player, but Maggie Alphonsi is finally back where she belongs as she gets ready for England's Autumn International Series against France at Twickenham on Saturday. Alphonsi has been sidelined since March 2012 with injury but she teams up with Wasps' Marlie Packer and Richmond's Rebecca Essex to form an exciting backrow partnership. "It's been tough but I am delighted to be back," Alphonsi told Sky Sports. "I worked hard over the summer - I did not play any rugby but just worked hard on getting my knee strong. You don't realise how much you miss it until you are no longer involved."
Watch England take on Argentina live on Sky Sports 2 HD and Sky 3D, coverage starts at 1.30pm on Saturday - with England Women v France live for 5pm