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Eddie Jones turns to Mark Wilson as England’s solution at number 8

Newcastle Falcons number 8 Mark Wilson will pack down at the tail of the England scrum when they take on the Springboks at Twickenham on Saturday.

Head coach Eddie Jones has made a number of changes to the forwards which toured South Africa in June, forced in to doing so at number 8 with an injury befalling Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes serving a six-week suspension.

Wilson will win his fifth cap for England in a back row that also includes Brad Shields at blindside flanker and the continuation of Tom Curry as openside flanker, having started all three Tests in the summer.

Manu Tuilagi’s eagerly-anticipated return will have to be made off the replacements’ bench after his fine start to the season with Leicester Tigers.

The midfield combination chosen by Jones will see Ben Te’o partner Henry Slade. While Slade’s Exeter Chiefs team-mate Alec Hepburn beats Ben Moon to start at loosehead prop.

There is no place among the starters for George Ford meaning Owen Farrell will move into the 10 jersey for the first time since the 2018 Six Nations defeat to Ireland.

(Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Farrell will jointly lead a team comprising 413 caps of experience alongside hooker Dylan Hartley.

The match against the Springboks gives Jones a chance to assess the defensive system put in place by John Mitchell, after he replaced Paul Gustard as defence coach in September.

“We’ve become very well organised in our set piece and have done a lot of good work in Portugal over the last week,” said Jones. “We have put in a new defence system and our attack looks more organised than it was on the South Africa tour.”

On taking on South Africa Jones said: “Against South Africa you have got the physical battle up front and then you have to be tactically smart in how you attack against them. We need to find ways to gain momentum, then once we find momentum, convert that to points.

“We are really excited to be back at Twickenham Stadium. It’s been a long time and we can’t wait to play in front of 82,000 fans.”


England team to play the Springboks at Twickenham (Saturday, 15:00 KO)

England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (co-capt), 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Dylan Hartley (co-captain), 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 6 Brad Shields, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Mark Wilson.

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Manu Tuilagi.

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