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England make five changes for Japan and hand debut to Dave Ribbans

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England will take the field at Twickenham on Saturday to play Japan with a starting XV showing five changes from the team beaten 29-30 by Argentina last Sunday. Eddie Jones had pared down his original squad of 36 to 25 on Wednesday night, keeping with him Jamie George, the hooker surprisingly recalled to the setup on Monday when it was thought he would miss the entire Autumn Nations Series through injury.

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George now comes onto the bench in place of the excluded Jack Singleton, cover that has a five/three forwards/backs split this week compared to last weekend’s six/two split. However, it is the starting team that has naturally garnered the most focus with Jones changing two of his run-on pack and three of his backs.

The alterations in the forwards herald a first cap for Test rookie lock Dave Ribbans, who will debut in place of Alex Coles, who made his debut versus the Pumas. No8 Billy Vunipola also slips to the bench with Sam Simmonds promoted.

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In the backs, Jack van Poortvliet will start in place of the benched Ben Youngs, the fit-again Jonny May is on the left wing for the excluded Joe Cokanasiga while summer tour midfielder Guy Porter has been recalled at outside centre with Manu Tuilagi dropping to the bench.

He has been named as the third sub back, with flanker Jack Willis losing out after being last week’s sixth replacement forward. Willis is this week’s 24th man with Cokanasiga the other player in the gathering of 25 not named in the matchday 23.

Jones said: “We have worked hard this week to improve on last week’s performance.  We have taken a good look at our preparation and we are happy with our position going into the game. We have made a few changes to the side as we play these four games in November.  In particular with Manu, we are balancing his workload.

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“Japan are a very good and intriguing side.  They play a unique type of rugby based on continuity and team cohesion and we’ll have to be at our best against them at Twickenham on Saturday.”

England (vs Japan, Saturday)
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 14 caps)
14. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 43 caps)
13. Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (C) (Saracens, 98 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 69 caps)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 14 caps)
9. Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 4 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 40 caps)
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 38 caps)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 53 caps)
4. David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
5. Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks, 16 caps)
6. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 59 caps)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 42 caps)
8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 15 caps)

Replacements:
16. Jamie George (Saracens, 69 caps)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 71 caps)
18. Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 6 caps)
19. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)
20. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 65 caps)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 118 caps)
22. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 49 caps)
23. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 47 caps)

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