Bath Rugby's Abendanon and Fearns start for England
Bath Rugby's Nick Abendanon and Carl Fearns will line up for England today in South Africa.
Abendanon has been named a full-back and Fearns will pack down in the back row as England take on the Northern Barbarians in Potchefstroom.
The Bath full-back was called into the England touring party as a replacement for the injuried Mike Brown.
He started England's last midweek game against the Southern Barbians on the bench and will be looking to impress England head coach Stuart Lancaster.
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Before the England call came, Abendanon was in Johannesburg after the wedding of former Bath team-mate Pieter Dixon.
Fearns gets his second start for England as Lancaster eyes potential replacements for influential captain Chris Robshaw.
Lancaster may have dropped some hints as to his line-up for the final Test against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth in his selection for the midweek match.
Flanker James Haskell, a potential replacement for Robshaw, was only named on bench, perhaps to keep him relatively fresh.
Scrum-half Lee Dickson was also due to start while his rival to take over from the injured Ben Youngs, Danny Care, was conspicuous by his absence from the teamsheet.
Ben Morgan was also in the starting line-up suggesting the rested Thomas Waldrom could supplant him at number eight.
Robshaw will play no part in the final Test on Saturday after it was revealed he broke his right thumb in last weekend’s defeat in Johannesburg.
It is a bitter blow for the team and the 26-year-old flanker, whose inspirational performances have been one of the key factors in England’s revival since the dismal World Cup campaign last year.
Robshaw said: “I’m absolutely gutted. I’ve been very proud and honoured to lead this group during the Six Nations and on this tour and it’s a difficult way to end the season.”
Robshaw took a bang to the hand in the first Test in Durban and thought it was just bruised, but had it assessed after another painful blow in the second match.
He wanted to play on even after his fears of a break were confirmed but head coach Stuart Lancaster said it was not worth the risk.
Lancaster said: “No player, when they are captain of their country, wants to be told they can’t play in the final Test.
“But we have got to respect the specialist advice.
“If he gets another kick on it, it will displace and then it will require an operation.
“We don’t want to compromise his well-being by putting him in with a fracture which could displace and then keep him out for three months as opposed to four weeks.”
Lancaster has moved quickly to name hooker Dylan Hartley as replacement skipper for the final Test.
Hartley, 26, has not produced his best form on the tour and recently served an eight-week ban for biting but Lancaster expects the Northampton front rower to rise to the challenge.
Lancaster said: “In the changing room before the game you hear lots of voices.
“You have the captain’s voice but I can guarantee you Dylan’s voice is close behind, encouraging, shouting, motivating.
“I think it will add five percent on Dylan Hartley this weekend, definitely.”
England team to play Northern Barbarians in tour match in Potchefstroom on Tuesday, June 19:
N Abendanon (Bath); C Wade (London Wasps), A Allen (Leicester), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), U Monye (Harlequins); C Hodgson (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton); M Mullan (Worcester), T Youngs (Leicester), P Doran Jones (Northampton), G Kitchener (Leicester), G Robson (Harlequins, capt), J Gibson (London Irish), C Fearns (Bath), B Morgan (Scarlets).
Replacements: J Gray (Harlequins), R Harden (Gloucester), M Botha (Saracens), J Haskell (Otago Highlanders), K Dickson (Harlequins), D Strettle (Saracens), J May (Gloucester).