Corry retains captaincy for Tonga clash

MARTIN CORRY will lead England into their most important Test match since the 2003 World Cup final on Friday night, claiming: “Captaincy is not something I strive for.”

Despite England’s World Cup captain Phil Vickery being available again after serving a two-match ban, Corry has retained the reins he held against South Africa and Samoa.

Tighthead prop Matt Stevens’ form means Vickery is on the bench for England’s tournament eliminator against Tonga at Parc des Princes.

It also hands Corry the key task of steering England towards a quarter-final appointment with Australia almost nine months after he lost the job to Vickery.

Corry said: “I thought Vicks would come back on Friday but he is on the bench. He will come on at some stage, and as soon as he comes on he will take his rightful role as captain.

“Captaincy to me is not something I strive for. The most important thing for me is that I am in the starting XV.

“If people feel I am suitable enough to be the captain on top of that, then great ... I stress Vicks is the captain of this squad and as soon as he comes on he will take that role.”

Vickery was suspended for tripping United States centre Paul Emerick during England’s tournament opener, and head coach Brian Ashton stressed Stevens’ performances have blocked his hopes of an immediate return.

Ashton said: “Phil hasn’t played for two or three weeks. Matt has scrummaged pretty well and he makes a big impact around the field when he gets the ball in his hands. The captaincy was a secondary issue, really.”

Ashton made two changes from the side that revived England’s World Cup campaign through a 44-22 victory over Samoa last Saturday. Bath captain Steve Borthwick replaces Simon Shaw in the second row alongside Ben Kay, with Leicester’s Lewis Moody at openside flanker instead of Joe Worsley.

Lawrence Dallaglio features among the substitutes, while neither full-back Jason Robinson (hamstring) nor flanker Tom Rees (thigh) are available.

Tonga have beaten the US and Samoa, and went within five points of holding Pool A winners South Africa. Victory against England would send the world champions home and give Tonga a quarter-final debut.

ENGLAND: J Lewsey (Wasps); P Sackey (Wasps), M Tait (Newcastle), O Barkley (Bath), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), A Gomarsall (Harlequins); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), G Chuter (Leicester), M Stevens (Bath), S Borthwick (Bath), B Kay (Leicester), M Corry (Leicester, capt), L Moody (Leicester), N Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath), P Vickery (Wasps), L Dallaglio (Wasps), J Worsley (Wasps), P Richards (London Irish), A Farrell (Saracens), D Hipkiss (Leicester).

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