England grunt up front for South African test and Freeman returns | England rugby team

Eddie Jones has given Tommy Freeman a start and strengthened his pack for Saturday’s game against South Africa at Twickenham, selecting Mako Vunipola and Jamie George. Jones has also given Alex Coles a second start and dropped both his vice-captains as England look for a second win of the autumn campaign.

Freeman replaces Nowell on the right wing, while Vunipola replaces Ellis Genge at loosehead prop and George replaces Luke Cowan-Dickie. Coles enters the back row as blind flanker for Sam Simmonds, preferred to his Northampton clubmate David Ribbans. Jones has also kept faith in Jack van Poortvliet at scrum half, despite his obvious struggle against New Zealand.

The 21-year-old Freeman will make his first appearance in the autumn and impressed when he won his first two caps against Australia this summer. Nowell falls to the bench after battling the All Blacks. Vunipola and George both impressed against New Zealand from the bench last week – the latter’s inclusion came despite his admission this week that his broken foot has still not healed properly. Ribbans is unfortunate to miss out on Coles given his impact from the bench against New Zealand.

Elsewhere, Manu Tuilagi wins his 50th off center cap, with Jones resisting the temptation to start Henry Slade – another eye catching against the All Blacks. Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell continue their 10-12 partnership, while Jones stays loyal to Jonny May and Freddie Steward and Van Poortvliet, another pair of 21-year-olds.

Up front Kyle Sinckler, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola all keep their places. Cowan-Dickie, Genge and Will Stuart – who scored two tries in the dramatic comeback against New Zealand – provide front row cover as substitutes. Ribbans, Simmonds, Ben Youngs, Slade and Nowell are also on the bench.

“This is our last game of the fall and our chance to build on the improvements we made during the games,” said Jones. “We have made steady progress from game to game, culminating in a pulsating draw against New Zealand.

Quick guide

England play against South Africa


England’s 23 play against South Africa in the Autumn Nations Series at Twickenham on Saturday, kick-off 5.30pm.

F Steward (Leicester Tigers); T Freeman (Northampton Saints), M Tuilagi (Sale Sharks), O Farrell (Saracens, capt), J May (Gloucester Rugby); M Smith (Harlequins), J van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers); M Vunipola (Saracens), J George (Saracens), K Sinckler (Bristol Bears), M Itoje (Saracens), J Hill (Sale Sharks), A Coles (Northampton Saints), T Curry (Sale Sharks), B Vunipola (Saracens ).
Replacements L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), E Genge (Bristol Bears), W Stuart (Bath Rugby), D Ribbans (Northampton Saints), S Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers), H Slade (Exeter Chiefs) , J Nowell (Exeter chiefs).

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“Now we have the chance to test ourselves against the might of the world champions. We go out to cheer up the crowd. The support at Twickenham was excellent last week and we want to work hard on the pitch to make sure we have that kind of atmosphere again on Saturday.”

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