George Ford captain, Cokanasiga starts against Japan

Ruben Hill
November 17, 2018

The Bath winger will feature alongside Chris Ashton and Elliot Daly in the backline while Jack Nowell Alex Lozowski are named as the centre pairing.

The scrum will be headed by an all-new front row of Alex Hepburn, Jamie George and Harry Williams, while Zach Mercer starts at number 8 to pilot the ball at the rear.

Charlie Ewels partners Maro Itoje in the second row, with Courtney Lawes at blindside flanker, while Zach Mercer wins his second cap at No 8, with Mark Wilson switching to openside flanker.

Ford will captain England for the first time in his career and Jones believes the 25-year-old will rise to the challenge against a hard Japan outfit. "It is exciting to be able to give starting opportunities to Zach Mercer and Joe Cokanasiga and young Ted Hill on the bench".

England head coach Eddie Jones has tasked his side to bounce back from the narrow defeat to New Zealand as England continue their preparation towards the 2019 Six Nations.

When asked what stood out about Cokanasiga, Jones replied: He has got pace, he has got power and he has got the ability to find the line so they are three pretty important characteristics for a winger. We have also tested ourselves in having a shorter preparation. What has impressed us a lot - the players and the coaches - is for a young guy who has played two Premiership games, he has come in and he has not been overawed by the situation. "We have had a short preparation but a good preparation", explained Jones. A number of players have changed their roles going from finishers to starters and starters to finishers so that is the essential change to the squad.

On Ford as captain, Jones said: "It's a wonderful moment for him and his family".

We want to play really well because we don't get too many opportunities to play as an England side so every opportunity is a golden opportunity, Jones said.

"Previously Japanese sides were happy to get beaten, they were the Brave Blossoms, but now this new generation of Japanese players believe that they can win and that makes them a much stronger team", Jones said. "They are going to have a bag of magic". Finishers: 16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 95 caps), 17 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps), 18 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 15 caps), 19 Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors, uncapped), 20 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 7 caps), 21 Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 31 caps), 22 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 63 caps), 23 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 15 caps).

"There's something a little bit special about him so we're looking forward to seeing him play".

William Tupou moves from outside centre to fullback while Timothy Lafaele switches from 12 to 13 in a new midfield partnership with Ryoto Nakamura. Richard Wigglesworth is set for a first appearance of the autumn from the bench.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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