England team to face Japan
England vs Japan kicks off at 3:00 pm on Saturday 17 November
Head coach Eddie Jones has named his England team to face Japan at Twickenham on Saturday. It’s their third Test of the 2018 Autumn Internationals.
Following the opening Quilter International victory over South Africa, England suffered an agonising 16-15 defeat by New Zealand last weekend to hand Jones only his second defeat at Twickenham since taking the job.
There are 11 changes to the starting XV which faced New Zealand last weekend with two positional switches.
George Ford (Leicester Tigers) will start at fly half and captain England in his 50th match.
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) and Alex Lozowski (Saracens) are the centre pairing while Saturday’s try-scorer Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks) moves from right to left wing.
Bath winger Joe Cokanasiga will make his England debut while the uncapped apprentice Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors) is named as a finisher.
For the first time this series Danny Care (Harlequins) will start at scrum half with Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens) on the bench.
There are three changes to the front row with Exeter Chiefs’ props Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams starting alongside Saracens’ hooker Jamie George. England’s starting front three against New Zealand are named as finishers.
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Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby) will start in the second row in place of the injured George Kruis (Saracens) and will partner Maro Itoje (Saracens) who is named as vice-captain.
In other changes to the forward pack, Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) will play blindside flanker with Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) switching from number 8 to openside flanker. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) will make his first start for England at number 8.
“Japan is an important game for us as we want to get back to winning ways,” said Jones. “We have also tested ourselves in having a shorter preparation. We gave the players two days off after three weeks of intensive work. We have had a short preparation but a good preparation.
“We are expecting plenty of energy, aggression and fast ball movement. They will be full of surprises, quick taps, lineouts and plays. They are going to have a bag of magic.”
On the squad selected Jones added: “This weekend is a good opportunity for us to test the depth of the squad. A number of players have changed their roles going from finishers to starters and starters to finishers so that is the essential change to the squad. It is exciting to be able to give starting opportunities to Zach Mercer and Joe Cokanasiga and young Ted Hill on the bench.”
On Ford as captain, he said: “It’s a wonderful moment for him and his family. Fifty caps and captaining the side is a great honour and every game he plays for England he gives his absolute best.”
Japan have won 11 of their last 17 matches in Europe, drawing one and losing five. Their last game on the continent saw them draw 23-23 with France last November.
England team to face Japan
15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 23 caps), 14 Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, uncapped), 13 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 28 caps), 12 Alex Lozowski (Saracens, 4 caps), 11 Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks, 41 caps), 10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 49 caps) captain, 9 Danny Care (Harlequins, 83 caps), 1 Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps), 2 Jamie George (Saracens, 30 caps), 3 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 13 caps), 4 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 8 caps), 5 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 24 caps) vice-captain, 6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 66 caps), 7 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 6 caps), 8 Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby, 1 cap).
16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 95 caps), 17 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps), 18 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 15 caps), 19 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors, uncapped), 20 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 7 caps), 21 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 31 caps), 22 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 63 caps), 23 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 15 caps).