Six Nations

England unchanged for Wales

2016-03-10 12:47
Manu Tuilagi (AFP)

London - England coach Eddie Jones has named an unchanged starting side for Saturday's potential Six Nations title showdown against Wales at Twickenham but recalled powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi to the bench.

Jones kept faith with the XV who kicked off tournament leaders England's 21-10 victory over defending champions Ireland last time out - a result that made it three wins out of three for the team under the Australian and kept alive their hopes of a Grand Slam.

Tuilagi, 24, has not played for England since a groin injury sidelined him for 15 months and, even if fit, would have missed last year's World Cup after former coach Stuart Lancaster dropped him on disciplinary grounds after he assaulted a police officer.

Having made a comeback in January with his club side, Leicester, Tuilagi then suffered a hamstring injury that again kept him off the pitch.

But Jones, who has long spoken enthusiastically about Tuilagi's talent, said Thursday in a Rugby Football Union statement: "Manu has trained well this week and I'm pleased with what I've seen.

"His selection in the matchday squad is based more on potential than his recent performances in the Premiership," the former Australia and Japan coach added.

Tuilagi has replaced Alex Goode in England's matchday 23, with Luke Cowan-Dickie now the reserve hooker behind skipper Dylan Hartley after Jamie George suffered a biceps injury in training on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the fit-again Joe Launchbury provides second-row cover with prop Kieran Brookes chosen ahead of Northampton team-mate Paul Hill.

"It was a tight call between Kieran Brookes and Paul Hill, who have pushed each other hard, but Kieran gets the nod for Saturday," said Jones.

"It is a shame that Jamie George misses out through injury and we wish him well in his recovery, but it provides a great opportunity for Luke Cowan-Dickie to show what he's about.

"There is a huge amount to play for on Saturday and we are looking forward to being back at home in front of a vocal Twickenham crowd."

Saturday's match will be the first time England have played Wales since the Welsh helped knock the hosts out of the World Cup with a dramatic 28-25 pool win at Twickenham in September.

England's starting XV this Saturday features eight survivors from that match -- full-back Mike Brown, wing Anthony Watson, Owen Farrell (now at centre rather than fly-half), scrum-half Ben Youngs, back-rows Billy Vunipola and Chris Robshaw, as well as props Joe Marler and Dan Cole.

In total 13 of England's matchday 23 this weekend were involved in the World Cup loss to Wales, a result where then skipper Robshaw was criticised for not going for goal with a late penalty that might have tied the game and instead opting for an attacking line-out that failed to produce a match-winning try.

Lancaster sidelined Hartley from the World Cup squad for disciplinary reasons but that did not stop Jones selecting the New Zealand-born forward as his first England captain.

Wales are also unbeaten in this season's Six Nations but do not have a perfect record after a 16-16 draw in their tournament opener against Ireland.

Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, named an unchanged starting side on Tuesday, the New Zealander sticking with the XV that kicked off in the 19-10 victory over France in Cardiff on February 26.


England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Danny Care, 22 Manu Tuilagi, 23 Elliot Daly

Wales: TBA

Read more on:    england  |  six nations  |  manu tuilagi  |  rugby

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