England vs Wales team news: George Ford returns in only change for Autumn Nations Cup clash in Llanelli

Jack de Menezes
·3-min read
George Ford returns to the starting line up for England’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Wales (PA)
George Ford returns to the starting line up for England’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Wales (PA)

George Ford will make his first England start of the season after Eddie Jones made just one personnel change to his side for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Wales.

The fly-half returns to the starting XV after recovering from an Achilles injury, having made his comeback off the replacements’ bench in last weekend’s 18-7 victory over Ireland that put England on the verge of a place in the final of the one-off competition.

It means that captain Owen Farrell will shift to inside centre for the first time since the Six Nations win over Wales in March, with Henry Slade restored to outside centre to fill the void left by the injured Ollie Lawrence, who is absent due to a hip injury.

The rest of the side is unchanged from the one that started against England, meaning that Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler continue in the front row. Joe Laucnhbury fends off Jonny Hill to partner Maro Itoje at lock, with Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola retained in the back row as just rewards for the pack’s defensively dominant display last Saturday at Twickenham.

READ MORE: How to watch Autumn Nations Cup clash on Amazon Prime

Ben Youngs, England’s most-capped active player, will win his 103rd cap to continue to close on Jason Leonard’s record of 115 as he starts at fly-half, with Jonny May in the back three along with Jonathan Joseph and Elliot Daly as he looks to pick up where he left off following his two-try display against the Irish.

Jones makes three changes among his replacements in order to revert to the six-two split between forwards and backs that he utilised throughout the Six Nations at the start of the year. Fit-again hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie returns at the expense of Tom Dunn, while Wasps flanker Jack Willis is selected for the first time since his try-scoring debut against Georgia two weeks ago as the additional forward. Anthony Watson meanwhile returns from injury to replace Ford as the only cover for the back three, with Dan Robson covering scrum-half.

Props Ellis Genge and Will Stuart, Exeter lock Hill and Bristol flanker Ben Early make up the rest of the bench, with Jones electing to reinforce his forward options as he expects a tough game despite Wales’s recent run of one win in seven games.

<p>Ford is the only new face in the England side against Wales</p>PA

Ford is the only new face in the England side against Wales

PA

“We’re expecting another tough match, and at the home of Welsh Rugby where the heart and soul of their game is,” Jones said of the Llanelli encounter.

“Twelve months ago, Wales were Grand Slam champions and three points from a World Cup final, so we know what they are capable of.

“We’ve picked the best 23 players for the battle and we’re looking forward to it greatly.”

Max Malins misses out on the squad after consecutive appearances off the bench, as does prop Joe Marler, who will not get the chance to reacquaint himself with the Welsh team after he was banned for 10 weeks following their last contest for grabbing Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones by the genitals, with the Harlequins forward not yet ready to make his return after having a minor procedure on his knee at the end of last season.

England team vs Wales

Elliot Daly; Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Jack Willis, Dan Robson, Anthony Watson.

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