Exciting youngsters Hill and COKANASIGA set for surprise Test debuts as England name side to face JAPAN
Eddie Jones has rung the changes this morning with his England team to play Japan at Twickenham consisting of a number of exciting additions.
The biggest surprise comes in the backline, where winger Jack Nowell starts at outside centre. Jones suggested Nowell was under consideration in midfield during the 2018 Six Nations campaign, but talk of the move has been scarce ever since. Nowell is joined in the centres by Saracens' Alex Lozowski, who returns from suspension.
Two youngsters are set for their Test debuts with Bath's imposing Fijian-born winger Joe Cokanasiga, 21, starting in the 14 jersey and Worcester Warriors' 19-year-old blindside Ted Hill could come off from bench for his first cap.
Bath lock Charlie Ewels replaces the injured George Kruis, while Northampton Saints second row Courtney Lawes is shifted to the backrow. Sam Underhill is shifted from the starting XV to the bench while Brad Shields is let out of the matchday 23 altogether after both flankers started on either side of the scrum against New Zealand last week.
Frontrowers Alec Hepburn, Jamie George and Harry Williams are handed starting opportunities after arriving from the bench last weekend, while Zach Mercer will earn his first start for England at number eight alongside Newcastle Falcons man Mark Wilson, who moves to the openside to accommodate Mercer.
Saracens lock Maro Itoje takes up the role of vice-captain in the absence of Dylan Hartley and Owen Farrell, with George Ford taking up the full captaincy, returning to the starting lineup alongside Danny Care.
“Japan is an important game for us as we want to get back to winning ways," said Jones. "We have also tested ourselves in having a shorter preparation. We gave the players two days off after three weeks of intensive work. We have had a short preparation but a good preparation.
“We are expecting plenty of energy, aggression and fast ball movement. They will be full of surprises, quick taps, lineouts and plays. They are going to have a bag of magic.”
On the squad selected Jones added: “This weekend is a good opportunity for us to test the depth of the squad. A number of players have changed their roles going from finishers to starters and starters to finishers so that is the essential change to the squad. It is exciting to be able to give starting opportunities to Zach Mercer and Joe Cokanasiga and young Ted Hill on the bench."
On Ford as captain, he said: “It’s a wonderful moment for him and his family. Fifty caps and captaining the side is a great honour and every game he plays for England he gives his absolute best.”