11:13am Thursday 15th November 2012
By Rob Iles
CHARLIE SHARPLES has kept his place in the England team to face Australia in the second autumn international at Twickenham on Saturday.
The former Dursley youth player impressed head coach Stuart Lancaster when he scored two tries in the 54-12 win over Fiji.
Ugo Monye also bagged a try on the opposite wing in that game, but he has been dropped from the 23-man squad with the prolific Chris Ashton returning from suspension and Sharples switching to the left wing.
That was the only change in the squad, meaning former Thornbury Broncos youth player Mako Vunipola keeps his spot on the replacements bench after making his debut against Fiji, although there is no place again for Sharples’ former Dursley team-mate Ben Morgan.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster said: “We had to make some tough decisions within the 23 and we are in a good position to be able to select from a virtually fully fit squad.
“The ‘team first’ mentality of all our squad has impressed us greatly.
"We were pleased with lots of aspects of our performance last week, but we know we need to improve this week and, by having some consistency in selection, we allow those players to demonstrate we can step up to the next level against what will be a very tough Australian side.
“It is tough on Ugo, who misses out this time, but Chris (Ashton) has been excellent in training and Charlie is rewarded for his performance at the weekend.
“It’s a great position to be in. Charlie got his opportunity on the back of Chris’ suspension and did exactly what you’d want him to do.
“I was pleased for him. I thought he did well. He was excellent in every area.”
Sharples opened his international account in the win over Fiji scoring the first try with a mazy run reminiscent of his Cherry and Whites teammate James Simpson-Daniel, and added a second after the break.
Simpson-Daniel’s own international career remains criminally unfulfilled – just ten caps and none since 2007 – but rather than worry about imitating his older teammate’s fleeting international career, Sharples insists he is focused on consistently performing to give Lancaster and his fellow coaches a selection headache.
He said: “My goal going into the match was to put my best foot forward and to raise a few questions for the coaches.
“I’m just glad that the game went well. I was delighted and I managed to see quite a bit of the ball.
“We left a couple of tries begging out there. That’s something you learn in the Premiership – you have to take your chances. Luckily, we took the majority of them.”
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