- Brown pinpoints battle at the gain line ahead of 'Boks clash
- Brown - England have unfinished business with South Africa
Despite having played at full back for the majority of his domestic career with Harlequins, Mike Brown says he is well suited to start on the wing against South Africa and is looking forward to concluding some unfinished business with the Springboks.
Brown is one of six changes made to Lancaster’s starting lineup in wake of the team’s 20-14 defeat to Australia last weekend. He is part of a back three including full back Alex Goode and right wing Chris Ashton, who Brown played alongside against Australia when he came on as a substitute for winger Charlie Sharples.
The Quins full back will get his seventh international cap at Twickenham against the Springboks and has previous experience against the Southern Hemisphere side having played them three times before.
Brown toured South Africa in 2007, picking up two caps, and also featured in the first of this year’s summer Tests before injuring his thumb which ruled him out of the following two fixtures. The 27-year-old started on the wing in England’s first Test defeat, picked by Lancaster to combat the aerial threat posed by South Africa’s “kick and chase” tactics.
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His inclusion on the left wing against the Boks on Saturday ahead suggests that England are again aiming to nullify the aerial threat, including the boot of scrum half Ruan Pienaar who has kicked with great affect in South Africa’s last two games.
“I have not played a great deal on the wing but Dean Richards did play me there when he was at Harlequins a few years back,” said Brown. “But in the modern game you have to be interchangeable as a back three and as a full back you find yourself on the wing in various parts of the game anyway. You have got to be good under the high ball, have a good kicking game and work well as a unit.
“Sometimes the full back can find himself at the bottom of the ruck so the winger has to drop back, and vice versa. They (the coaches) said I have trained well and they just want to get me on the pitch. I think I have made an impact when I have come off the bench before to play on the wing so I am looking forward to it.”
South Africa have beaten both Ireland and Scotland in recent weeks and in each case the Springbok pack, including the likes of lock Eben Etzebeth and back rows Francois Louw and Willem Alberts, has been highly effective at the breakdown.
Having finished this summer's tour with of South Africa with two defeats and a draw, Brown says that England have unfinished business with the Springboks and that the physicality of the match is something he and the side have been preparing for in training this week.
“I haven’t started too many international games, but I seem to be attracted to the South African style of play,” said Brown. “I have three caps against them now and they seem to be born and bred on physicality. The team has unfinished business as we were so close in that last test in the summer and want to finish the job this time.
“If you don’t win the gain line battle you are going to be struggling and with their physicality you will struggle even more so. We have looked at that this week and it’s about getting our minds right and getting our heads around the physicality.”