Ruaridh McConnochie to make England debut against Wales

Sevens specialist one of three changes made by Eddie Jones for Cardiff warm-up clash

Ruaridh McConnochie is set to make his England debut against Wales on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

Ruaridh McConnochie is set to make his England debut against Wales on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

 

Ruaridh McConnochie will make his England debut a week later than hoped for after overcoming a hip problem in time to start against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Bath wing and sevens specialist was picked in the team to face the Grand Slam champions at Twickenham for the World Cup warm-up match last weekend but was among a trio of late withdrawals due to injury.

Anthony Watson has been left out of the matchday 23 after completing his comeback from a 17-month absence due to an Achilles issue, so Joe Cokanasiga lines up on the opposite wing.

England captain Owen Farrell makes his first appearance of the World Cup warm-up schedule but is confined to a place on the bench, meaning George Ford will lead the team once more.

In total there are three changes to the side that routed Wales 33-19 with Maro Itoje restored to the second row in place of Charlie Ewels, with Joe Launchbury still present.

The final adjustment comes in the back row where Courtney Lawes packs down at blindside flanker, forcing Lewis Ludlam to switch to seven.

In an unusual selection, Eddie Jones has opted to name two hookers on the bench in the form of Jamie George and Jack Singleton rather than choose a supporting back row.

Jones said: “Our selection strategy for our second game is similar to the first, so a bit of a mix-and-match approach.

“We are looking at different combinations and have a particular strategy for this game.”

Piers Francis and Jonathan Joseph are reunited as the centre pairing and New Zealand-born Willi Heinz wins his second cap at scrum-half.

Jones said: “The game is very much about ourselves preparing for the World Cup and we are respectful that we have got such strong opposition at their home ground.

“We are looking forward to it. The squad has been progressing well this week and I think there is a realisation now that the hard work really starts, nothing has been achieved.”

England: E Daly (Saracens); R McConnochie (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), P Francis (Northampton Saints), J Cokanasiga (Bath); G Ford (Leicester Tigers), Willi Heinz (Gloucester); E Genge (Leicester Tigers), L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), J Launchbury (Wasps), M Itoje (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints), Billy Vunipola (Saracens). Replacements: J George (Saracens), J Marler (Harlequins), K Sinckler (Harlequins), G Kruis (Saracens), J Singleton (Saracens), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers), O Farrell (Saracens), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers).

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