England vs Wales team news: Willi Heinz and Ruaridh McConnochie start in inexperienced side against full-strength Welsh

Twelve of the Welsh starting line-up that beat England last February start as Warren Gatland names a full-strength side against Eddie Jones’ experimental line-up

Jack de Menezes
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Friday 09 August 2019 11:58
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Rugby World Cup: England issue injury update

Willi Heinz and Ruaridh McConnochie will get a chance to cement their place in England’s final Rugby World Cup squad after being named in an inexperienced starting line-up for Sunday’s Quilter International against what is a full-strength Wales.

New Zealand-born Heinz will start at scrum-half as vice-captain alongside flanker Sam Underhill, with experienced fly-half George Ford leading the side in the absence of Owen Farrell.

Underhill meanwhile will start in an attacking back-row that also features natural openside Tom Curry, who is named at No 6, with Billy Vunipola at No 8.

Ford will have Piers Francis outside him as the Northampton Saints centre starts, having been preferred at the start of the week to regular Ben Te’o, while Henry Slade completes the midfield line-up. Anthony Watson will make his return to Test rugby having been named on the left wing, with Bath’s Sevens convert McConnochie on the right wing and Elliot Daly continuing at full-back.

The front-row blends inexperience with age as Ellis Genge and Luke Cowan-Dickie – who makes his first start at hooker – are joined by the 88-cap Dan Cole, with Joe Launchbury partnering another Bath player in Charlie Ewels at lock.

Uncapped trio Jack Singleton, Lewis Ludlam and Joe Marchant are all named among the replacements, along with props Joe Marler and Harry Williams, lock George Kruis, veteran scrum-half Ben Youngs and last season’s breakthrough star Joe Cokanasiga.

Explaining his selection, Jones said that the aim to win seven matches in a row in Japan proved the thinking behind this squad, with a number of key names such as Farrell, Jamie George and Maro Itoje all absent.

“Our focus has now changed to match preparation and fitness and creating a game that will stand up to the rigours of the tournament where we have to win seven games in sevens weeks,” Jones said.

“Our team selection and tactics in our next four games are all about developing a team capable of winning in Japan and our overarching target of being ready when we get on the plane on the 8th of September to win the World Cup.”

But while Jones has decided to experiment with his side, opposite number Warren Gatland has named the bulk of the team that powered to the Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this year.

In a side captained by Alun Wyn Jones, only the injured Josh Navidi and Rob Evans are missing from the Welsh team that will enter Twickenham on the back of a 14-match winning streak – though Cory Hill is not selected despite recovering from an ankle injury suffered on that memorable day – with Aaron Wainwright coming into the No 6 shirt, Nicky Smith named at loosehead prop and Adam Beard joining Jones in the second row.

Teams

England: Elliot Daly; Ruaridh McConnochie, Henry Slade, Piers Francis, Anthony Watson; George Ford, Willi Heinz; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jack Singleton, Joe Marler, Harry Williams, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Ben Youngs, Joe Marchant, Joe Cokanasiga.

Wales: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis; Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones; Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Shingler, Tomas Williams, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.

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