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England make two XV changes and hand Manu Tuilagi a surprise role

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

Eddie Jones has named an England team to face the Wallabies this Saturday that shows two changes from the XV that put eleven tries past Tonga in last Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series opener at Twickenham. With skipper Owen Farrell cleared for selection following the false positive that ruled him out of the match versus the Pacific Islanders after he was originally chosen as the starting No10, he has now been chosen to start at inside centre on this occasion.

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That inclusion has resulted in the break-up of the impressive midfield partnership of Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade – but the surprise is that Tuilagi will keep his place in the starting XV and will instead start on the right wing in place of Adam Radwan. The 30-year-old has previously started 38 games for England and 37 of those appearances have come in the midfield with his sole outing on the right wing happening in June 2014 away to the All Blacks in Dunedin.

The other XV change sees Marcus Smith promoted to start at out-half in place of George Furbank. On the Autumn Nations Series bench, Sale pair Bevan Rodd, who was called into the squad after Joe Marler tested positive for Covid this week, and Raffi Quirke are in line to make their Test debuts in a match where Maro Itoje will make his 50th appearance for England following his debut against Italy in 2016.

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Finn Russell on fighting water boys, facing the Springboks and expensive watches
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Finn Russell on fighting water boys, facing the Springboks and expensive watches

It is a six-two split on the bench between forwards and backs, with Sam Simmonds poised to earn his first England cap since March 2018. Jones said: “We know this will be a tough test for us, we are playing against a team who have been together a while and who have beat the world champions twice.

“As an Australian, I know how much this game means. We have had a really good week of preparation, we are looking to improve our performance this week and I think this side is building well.”

ENGLAND (vs Australia, Saturday)
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps)
14. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 44 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 41 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 93 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 67 caps)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 3 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 110 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 60 caps)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 45 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 49 caps)
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 10 caps)
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 88 caps)
7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 25 caps)
8. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 34 caps)

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FINISHERS
16. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 3 caps)
17. Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 13 caps)
19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)
20. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 2 caps)
21. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps)
22. Raffi Quirke (Sale Sharks, uncapped)
23. Max Malins (Saracens, 8 caps)

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