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The three fixable factors behind Eddie Jones' England stagnation

Eddie Jones' England weren't far away from making the grade.

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Four changes in latest England team, including two in front row

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

England boss Eddie Jones has named a team to face the Springboks this Saturday in London that has four changes from the starting XV that drew 25-all with the All Blacks last weekend. The head coach had mentioned after the New Zealand game that an improved set-piece performance would be needed for the match against the South Africans which is set to bring the curtain down on the Autumn Nations Series.

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That thinking has now fed into team selection with England opting to start loosehead Mako Vunipola and hooker Jamie George in the front row and draft Alex Coles in at blindside following his bench role last weekend. Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Sam Simmonds all drop to the replacements.

Jones had already omitted back-rower Jack Willis, a used replacement last weekend, when he cut his squad from 36 to 26 on Tuesday evening, and that is the bench vacancy that Simmonds will now fill.   

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In the backline, Tommy Freeman has been chosen on the right wing in place of Jack Nowell – the sole change behind the scrum – and the demotion of Nowell has resulted in Guy Porter being excluded from the match day 23. Utility back Porter, loosehead Bevan Rodd and lock Hugh Tizard are the three players that Jones named in his reduced squad of 26 not included for Saturday.

This benching of Genge and Nowell will especially be a big deal for England as these players were two of the vice-captains that Jones had nominated at the start of the campaign. Jones said: “This is our last game of the autumn and our chance to continue building on the improvements we have made throughout the matches.

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“We have made steady progress from game to game, culminating in a pulsating draw against New Zealand. Now we have the chance to test ourselves against the might of the world champions. We are going out there to light the crowd up. The support at Twickenham was outstanding last week and we want to work hard on the pitch to make sure we have another atmosphere like that again on Saturday.”

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England (vs Springboks, Saturday)
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 16 caps)
14. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)
13. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 49 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (C) (Saracens, 100 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 71 caps)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 16 caps)
9. Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 6 caps)
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 73 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 71 caps)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 55 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 61 caps)
5. Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks, 18 caps)
6. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 44 caps)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 67 caps)

Replacements:
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 40 caps)
17. Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 42 caps)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)
19. David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)
20. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 17 caps)
21. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 120 caps)
22. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 51 caps)
23. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 44 caps)

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