Ali Stokes dissects England's squad to salvage this summer's South African tour in Cape Town this weekend.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has named his side to face the Springboks in Cape Town this weekend. In an attempt to avoid a series whitewash, Jones has employed the skills of 31-year-old Gloucester-bound fly-half Danny Cipriani for the first time in a decade. Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers and former Bath man George Ford has been dropped from the 23 altogether for the first time under the Jones regime after struggling to cope with the physical nature of the Springbok backline.
Former national captain Chris Robshaw has also returned to the 23, with Hurricanes and soon to be Wasps backrow Brad Shields dropping out of the matchday squad due to illness after starting in Bloemfontein last weekend.
Joe Marler and Nathan Hughes also return to the starting lineup following the news that Mako (attend the birth of his son) and Billy Vunipola (broken forearm) had flown back to England last weekend. Exeter’s Alec Hepburn, Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds earn their first appearances of the series from the bench, with Hill set to earn his first cap. Alongside hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and Harry Williams, Jones has selected five Chiefs on his bench.
A 6-2 bench split in favour of forwards also sees Newcastle Falcons flanker Mark Wilson retain a spot on the bench, with Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer and Sale Sharks wing Denny Solomona supplying reinforcements in the backline.
A side showing fewer changes than many may have been anticipating after any hopes of a series victory were washed away during last weekend’s 23-12 defeat in Bloemfontein.
Form Premiership players Dan Robson, Alex Lozowski and Jason Woodward miss out on any Test rugby this summer, with Saracens duo Nathan Earle (wing) and Ben Earl (flanker) also missing out on any action.
With the series lost and little else to play for, Eddie Jones has waved away the opportunity to see whether Robson, Lozowski or Woodward - standout Premiership players - have what it takes to play Test rugby. Jones may well have chosen the side with the best continuity to win the final game and avoid a series whitewash, ending a six game losing streak, but it has come at the cost of blooding potential stars.
When you cast an eye over the actions of Ireland, Scotland and Wales this summer, we see a stark contrast in tactics. All the Celtic nations have tested new players, discovering whether they can transfer their club form to the Test arena, something that England may learn to regret over the next few years.