Lawes leads England against Springboks as Marchant wins over-wing surprise appeal

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Courtney Lawes will captain England against South Africa on Saturday in the absence of injured Owen Farrell while Joe Marchant will make a first fall appearance on the right wing. Eddie Jones was also forced to select a first row rookie with Bevan Rodd and Jamie Blamire only making their second start to England with Joe Marler, who is not expected to come out of isolation until later Thursday after testing positive for Covid -19, named on the bench.

Lawes was the favorite for the captain position, having led the team in the victory over Tonga on November 6 when Farrell was also out, but the selection of Marchant on the right wing is somewhat surprising. As expected, Marcus Smith continues in the opening with Manu Tuilagi returning inside the center and Henry Slade retaining the No.13 jersey. Rather than go for Adam Radwan or Max Malins on the wing, however, Jones opted for Marchant, who normally plies his trade at center, echoing last Saturday’s selections for the win over Australia.

Blamire had to get the go-ahead with Jamie George missing due to injury with Nic Dolly in line for a test start on the bench. The 23-year-old Newcastle hooker has only made three Premiership starts, however. Despite having scored six tries out of his four England appearances so far, the world champions – who have a formidable front row – will prove to be a huge step forward. South Africa largely outperformed England in the scrum in the 2019 World Cup final and with Rodd also making only his second appearance in the tests, Jones has to trust his inexperience. This explains why Marler, who will not be able to train with the team until Friday, has been included among the substitutes.

Elsewhere, Kyle Sinckler starts head-to-head in the two sides’ first meeting since being knocked out in the early stages of the 2019 final while Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill continue to lock down. The back row is unchanged with Sam Underhill and Tom Curry continuing in the blind. Ben Youngs is once again in the scrimmage half with Jonny May remaining on the left wing and Freddie Steward in continuing form at the back. Joining Marler, Malins and Dolly on the bench are Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Sam Simmonds, Alex Dombrandt and Raffi Quirke.

Quick guide

The England team will face South Africa

Spectacle

Freddie Steward ; Joe Marchant, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May ; Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Bevan Rodd, Jamie Blamire, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Courtney Lawes (capitaine), Sam Underhill, Tom Curry. Remplacements : Nic Dolly, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Sam Simmonds, Alex Dombrandt, Raffi Quirke, Max Malins.

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Jones said: “This is our biggest game of the season and the last game of the fall campaign and we want to end on a high. We were very pleased with the preparation this week and how the team has continued to develop over the past month. Now we want to put on our best performance this fall in front of a crowd of 82,000 at Twickenham. “

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