Eddie Jones has tweaked the team that overcame Australia last weekend ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final clash against the All Blacks this Saturday in Yokohama.
George Ford, who started on the bench against the Wallabies, reclaims the ten shirt, while outside centre Henry Slade returns to the bench. That has been the only change to the starting XV, but Jones has opted to bring Mark Wilson onto the bench; something that has pleased England fans.
The Newcastle Falcons flanker has only made one appearance so far this RWC, against the USA, as Jones has preferred to start his ‘Kamikaze Kids’ Tom Curry and Sam Underhill on either side of the scrum, with Lewis Ludlam playing as a ‘finisher’. But Wilson has got the nod ahead of the Northampton Saints loose forward, something that has been described as “overdue” by fans on Twitter.
Wilson has been a rock for England over the past twelve months, playing at no8 during the autumn of 2018, and at blindside flanker during the Six Nations. Although he has been carrying an injury in recent months, some feel he has been unlucky to lose his place in Jones’ favoured 23-man squad.
The 30-year-old has ingratiated himself with England fans over the past year for his industrious attitude, a fundamental trait of any successful blindside.
But the Australian may feel that he brings just that bit more physicality than Ludlam, and against an All Blacks team that are starting Scott Barrett (primarily a lock) at six, Wilson may ensure that there is no drop in England’s grunt in the pack.
With Billy Vunipola also having ankle problems over the course of the RWC, Wilson perhaps provides more expertise at no8 than Ludlam, who was forced to play a half there against Argentina.
This is what has been said:
Mark Wilson ?????????
— Jimmy.woods (@woodgate_james) October 24, 2019
Wilson gets through a huge amount of work whenever he plays, be it for England, Newcastle or soon to be Sale Sharks. His defensive contribution is perhaps his defining quality, as the Six Nations saw him make the third-most tackles despite missing one game. Any team facing the All Blacks will need to defend, and Wilson may prove pivotal in the latter stages of the game.
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