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England back row stocks low as Jack Singleton is named as cover for Wales clash

Jack Singleton - England

England have named three hookers in their squad to play Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, with Jack Singleton set to provide cover as a flanker.

The Saracens forward will wear the no.20 jersey in Cardiff, as Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George will play in their recognised position.

Injuries to Sam Underhill, Tom Curry and Mark Wilson have left England light in the back row and Singleton has been trusted to showcase his versatility by head coach Eddie Jones.

The former Worcester Warriors star replaced lock Joe Launchbury in late on during last Sunday’s 33-19 victory at Twickenham over the same opponents they face this week.

Despite contending with a series of injuries at the position, England forwards coach Steve Borthwick was upbeat about Singleton’s ability to shift into the back five.

“Sam Underhill took a knock last week and is not ready,” Borthwick told the Independent.

“Tom (Curry) took a knock in the game and isn’t ready and Mark Wilson took a bang to the ribs and isn’t ready for this.

“Luckily we’ve got three very good hookers and Jack is versatile enough that he can cover.”

Jones has made three changes to his starting XV that recorded an impressive win over a strong Wales side at England headquarters.

Wing Ruaridh McConnochie is handed his first taste of Test rugby by replacing Bath team-mate in the side.

With England a little light in the back row, their strength at lock has eased selection concerns as Maro Itoje and Joe Launchbury come in to start meaning Courtney Lawes shifts to blindside flanker.

Warren Gatland has been forced into changes himself after the confirmation of Gareth Anscombe’s knee ligament and cartilage damage was enough to dash his World Cup dream.

Dan Biggar assumes kicking duties at fly-half while Jarrod Evans comes onto the bench.

James Ball is preferred at lock to partner captain Alun Wyn Jones and James Davies replaces Justin Tipuric in the back row.

Gatland told reporters he wanted his side to put on a show in front of a sell-out home crowd in Cardiff.

“We were disappointed to get the loss last weekend so it is important we step it up on Saturday and put in a big display in front a of a packed Principality Stadium,” he said.

“It is a little over five weeks until we kick off our campaign and it is important we are fully prepared and rugby-ready by then.”


Wales and England squads for Saturday’s match at the Principality Stadium:

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Nicky Smith, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 7 James Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Owen Watkin

England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 George Ford (c), 9 Willi Heinz; 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 Maro Itoje, 6 Courtney Lawes, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 8 Billy Vunipola

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Kruis, 20 Jack Singleton, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Manu Tuilagi

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