England v South Africa: Chris Ashton on bench as Manu Tuilagi suffers injury

England's Manu Tuilagi
Manu Tuilagi will have to wait to make his first England appearance since March 2016
England v South Africa
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 3 November Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app; watch highlights on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and online from 19:30 GMT.

Team news & line-ups

Sale wing Chris Ashton has been brought back into the England squad for Saturday's Test against South Africa following an injury to Manu Tuilagi.

The Leicester centre suffered a strain during training, but will rejoin the squad on Sunday.

Ashton is back in the international fold for the first time in four years.

England's Owen Farrell starts at fly-half for only the third time under head coach Eddie Jones, and fellow co-captain Dylan Hartley starts at hooker.

South Africa have made several changes from the side that lost to New Zealand last month.

With the Springboks' European-based players unavailable, full-back Damian Willemse makes his full debut.

Powerhouse back-row Duane Vermeulen is among those returning faces, having missed the entire Rugby Championship campaign to play domestically in Japan.

'Manu's disappointed'

Tuilagi has won 26 caps for England since making his debut in August 2011 against Wales, and went on to play at the World Cup that year. The 27-year-old's reputation grew as he starred in the win against New Zealand in 2012 and then earned selection for the Lions squad the following year.

However, he missed the 2015 World Cup because of a conviction for assault, while injuries and further poor discipline have hindered his chances of competing internationally since Eddie Jones took charge of the team three years ago.

This season the Samoa-born player has been in great form for Tigers, producing a man-of-the-match display against Scarlets in October's Champions Cup win.

England's scrum coach Neal Hatley said of the latest injury: "Manu's disappointed. He desperately wanted to play for England again."

England: 15-Daly, 14-Nowell, 13-Slade, 12-Te'o, 11-May, 10-Farrell, 9-Youngs; 1-Hepburn, 2-Hartley, 3-Sinckler, 4-Itoje, 5-Kruis, 6-Shields, 7-Curry, 8-Wilson

Replacements: 16-George, 17-Moon, 18-Williams, 19-Ewels, 20-Mercer, 21-Care, 22-Ford, 23-Ashton

South Africa: 15-Willemse, 14-Nkosi, 13-Kriel, 12-De Allende, 11-Dyantyi, 10-Pollard, 9-Van Zyl, 8-Whiteley, 7-Vermeulen, 6-Kolisi, 5-PS Du Toit, 4-Etzebeth, 3-Malherbe, 2-Marx, 1-Kitshoff

Replacements: 16-Mbonambi, 17-T Du Toit, 18-Louw, 19-Snyman, 20-De Jager, 21-Papier, 22-Jantjies, 23-Esterhuizen

Commentator's notes

Andrew Cotter:external-link "Having a long injury list a year out from a World Cup might be no bad thing - it gives a chance to see what some other players can do at Test level - but this is still quite an experimental England side.

"For example, the back-row of Brad Shields, Tom Curry and Mark Wilson has a combined total of 10 caps, while Owen Farrell starts at fly-half instead of George Ford and Ben Te'o in the centre despite having hardly played because of injury this season.

"South Africa are not without their own issues - missing a couple of their very best players in scrum-half Faf de Klerk and full-back Willie le Roux because the game falls outside the official Test window. But this is still a Springbok side on the rise and a fierce opener for England's autumn series."

View from both camps

England head coach Eddie Jones:

"We've lost 400 caps with the loss of the Vunipola brothers, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes, so that experience is hard to replace but we've still managed to name a very strong bench of finishers with Jamie George and Danny Care, who are outstanding players and will lead the final charge.

"We've become very well organised in our set-piece and have done a lot of good work in Portugal over the last week.

"We have put in a new defence system and our attack looks more organised than it was on the South Africa tour."

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus:

"This match will be a huge tactical affair with much of the outcome depending on how you handle the set phases and kicking game."

Match facts


  • South Africa have won 13 of the last 16 meetings, drawing one and losing two.
  • The last five meetings have produced 268 points at an average of 54 points per match.


  • England's victory in the final Test of their summer series versus South Africa ended a five-Test losing run.
  • Jonny May has scored a try in each of his last five Tests, including all three matches against South Africa in June.
  • Dylan Hartley (93) has 21 more caps than the rest of the starting pack combined (72).

South Africa

  • South Africa have won two of their last three Tests, including a 36-34 win over New Zealand.
  • Only one of the Springboks' five wins this year has come away from home.
  • Wing Aphiwe Dyantyi has scored five tries in his last six Tests.

Match officials

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Touch judges: Jerome Garces (France) & Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Top Stories

Also in Sport