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England have sent for the cavalry in recalling experienced locks, Courtney Lawes and Geoff Parling, to rectify the faults that cost them dear in Dublin 10 days ago as they prepare for the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham on Saturday.
They go straight into the match-day squad against Scotland as England look to rekindle the feel-good mood that had characterised their Six Nations championship prior to the 19-9 defeat by Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. With only two competition-based matches remaining before the World Cup in September, England are well aware of the need to round off at Twickenham in style. Lawes is to start alongside Dave Attwood with Parling primed to emerge from the bench with the only other change in the starting XV seeing the return of Mike Brown at full-back now that he has recovered from concussion.
The two second-row forwards have been on the sidelines for long stretches this season, Lawes recently recovering from an ankle problem that kept him out for 10 weeks while Parling missed the autumn series as he had a two month stand-down period after a head injury. It is two years since Parling featured in a Six Nations match although he did play a leading role in the tour to New Zealand last summer before giving way to a hamstring problem prior to the third Test.
Lawes, who made his Test debut in 2009, has become a vital element of this England set-up, forming a formidable second-row partnership with Joe Launchbury (who has a neck injury) in the 2014 championship. The 26-year-old Northampton player made his reputation as a firebrand forward, making big-hit tackles but he has since shown that there is more rounded side to his game.
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Brown cut a frustrated figure from the sidelines as the Red Rose went down 19-9 at the Aviva Stadium almost two weeks ago.
The 29-year-old was recovering from concussion as Robbie Henshaw’s second-half try put the Men in Green in the driving seat for the 2015 Championship.
But after being recalled by Stuart Lancaster to the starting XV, Brown intends to make amends and get England back to winning ways at Twickenham.
“It’s been good to be back out there training. It’s not nice to be sitting on the sideline, watching the boys put in the hard graft,” he said.
“We want to finish strongly, we think we let ourselves down in the performance against Ireland so we want to put that right.
“There’s no better opponent than Scotland to put it right, there’s a lot of rivalry between the two teams for the Calcutta Cup, so it will be brilliant.”
Lancaster has made two changes with Brown and Courtney Lawes replacing Saracens duo George Kruis and Alex Goode.
England: Alex Goode, George Kruis, Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Billy Vunipola, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Courtney Lawes, Dave Attwood, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler
Substitutes: Tom Croft, Nick Easter, Henry Thomas, Billy Twelvetrees, Danny Cipriani, Richard Wigglesworth, Tom Wood, Geoff Parling, Kieran Brookes, Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs
Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Dougie Fife, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw, David Denton, Blair Cowan, Robert Harley, Jonny Gray, Jim Hamilton, Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson
Substitutes: Greig Tonks, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Adam Ashe, Johnnie Beattie, Tim Swinson, Geoff Cross, Ryan Grant, Fraser Brown