Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga was handed his England debut on his 21st birthday as coach Eddie Jones made 11 changes to his starting side announced Thursday for this weekend’s international against Japan at Twickenham.
Fiji-born flyer Cokanasiga takes over on the right wing from Chris Ashton, who shifts across to take over from Jonny May on the left wing.
Leicester’s George Ford starts at fly-half and captains the side in his 50th test, having come off the bench for last week’s agonizing 16-15 loss to world champions New Zealand.
England co-captains Owen Farrell and Dylan Hartley are both among the replacements to face 2019 World Cup hosts Japan.
Only full-back Elliot Daly starts England’s penultimate November international in the same shirt, with lock Maro Itoje and flanker Mark Wilson retained but changing positions in the pack.
Former Japan boss Jones has also opted for a new midfield pairing of Jack Nowell and Alex Lozowski, with Danny Care starting at scrum-half.
Hartley has been replaced by British and Irish Lion Jamie George at hooker, with Exeter props Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams in a new-look front row.
Charlie Ewels partners Maro Itoje in the second row, with Courtney Lawes at blindside flanker, while Zach Mercer wins his second cap at No 8, with Wilson switching to openside flanker.
Jones has repeatedly made it clear he wanted this week to mirror England’s second game at the World Cup, where they will only have a four-day turnaround between Tonga and the United States.
That means the Australian coach is likely to make major changes between the pool fixtures.
England team to play Japan at Twickenham on Saturday
Elliot Daly; Joe Cokanasiga, Jack Nowell, Alex Lozowski, Chris Ashton; George Ford (capt), Danny Care; Zach Mercer, Mark Wilson, Courtney Lawes; Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels; Harry Williams, Jamie George, Alec Hepburn
Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Ben Moon, Kyle Sinckler, Ted Hill, Sam Underhill, Richard Wigglesworth, Owen Farrell, Henry Slade
© 2018 AFP
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