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England change three and also switch Itoje, plus keep faith in JVP

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has named an England team to face the All Blacks this Saturday at Twickenham that contains three changes from the XV that defeated Japan 52-13 last weekend. Joe Cokanasiga, a late call-up to start versus the Japanese after Jack Nowell was ruled out, had since picked up an ankle injury and was omitted when Jones trimmed his squad from 36 to 25 on Tuesday evening.

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His place on the right wing now reverts back to the fit-again Nowell. The other backline change sees Manu Tuilagi promoted from the bench to play at outside centre, with two-try Guy Porter now in the replacements. Jack van Poortvliet has kept the No9 jersey from Ben Youngs, while Owen Farrell will skipper the side from No12 in his 100th Test cap outing.

An RFU statement read: “Captain Owen Farrell will make his 100th appearance for England at inside centre.  Farrell made his debut against Scotland in February 2012 and he becomes only the third England men’s player to reach a century of caps.”

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In the pack, Billy Vunipola’s promotion from the finishers has caused a back-five reshuffle. With Vunipola named at No8, Sam Simmonds switches to blindside, a decision that has resulted in Maro Itoje, last weekend’s No6, going into the second row where Dave Ribbans now drops to the bench where Alex Coles misses out.

That bench includes also a number of other changes. Will Stuart has taken the backup tighthead in place of Joe Heyes, who was omitted from the 25 on Tuesday, while Jack Willis takes the bench spot vacated by the starting Vunipola.

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Jones said: “This fixture doesn’t come around too often and these are the games that players remember in their careers. New Zealand have had the upper hand over the years, but it has been more balanced in recent times and the players have a chance to play their part in history.

“We have had a great week preparing for the game and the team is ready to go at them. We are really pleased for Owen that he is reaching such a significant and special milestone.  He is an excellent player and competitor and he is deserving of every cap.”

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England (vs All Blacks, Saturday)
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 15 caps)
14. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 43 caps)
13. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 48 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 99 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 70 caps)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 15 caps)
9. Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 41 caps)
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 39 caps)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 54 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 60 caps)
5. Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks, 17 caps)
6. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 16 caps)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 43 caps)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 66 caps)

Replacements:
16. Jamie George (Saracens, 70 caps)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 72 caps)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 23 caps)
19. David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)
20. Jack Willis (unattached, 5 caps)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 119 caps)
22. Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps)
23. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 50 caps)

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