England v South Africa: Owen Farrell at fly-half, Manu Tuilagi on bench

Owen Farrell pictured during England training
Farrell has only made two previous starts at fly-half for England under coach Eddie Jones
England v South Africa
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 3 November Time: 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.

England co-captain Owen Farrell starts at fly-half in Saturday's Test against South Africa at Twickenham.

Ben Te'o is at inside centre, despite playing fewer than 30 minutes for Worcester this season.

Blind-side Brad Shields and Mark Wilson, who starts at number eight, form an inexperienced back row with Tom Curry, while Zach Mercer is set for a debut from the bench.

Manu Tuilagi is also a replacement, but there is no place for Chris Ashton.

It is set to be Leicester centre Tuilagi's first appearance for England in almost two-and-a-half-years.

Farrell has started at fly-half on just two previous occasions under Eddie Jones, but the England coach insists that moving him inside at George Ford's expense has always been part of his thinking.

"We have always had two options: one was to play George and Owen together and one was to play Owen at 10 with two bigger centres," Jones told BBC Sport.

"That is something that we have always looked at progressing. We have got the opportunity to do that now."

Te'o has played only 28 minutes of rugby for Worcester this season after undergoing thigh surgery in the summer but Jones says the former Leinster back is "ready to go", backing the 31-year-old's experience and work in training to see him through.

South Africa have named a heavyweight set of forwards with Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermeulen and Pieter-Steph du Toit all having more than 40 caps to their names.

Co-captain Dylan Hartley apart, England are short of such experience up front with second row George Kruis, making his 26th appearance, the next most experienced player in the pack.

"We have to meet fire with fire. Rugby is a physical game but we have to be smart. There will be opportunities to duck and dance and use a bit of ring-craft," added Jones.


Chris Jones, BBC Radio 5 live rugby union reporter

England boss Eddie Jones has hinted for a while he was keen on playing Owen Farrell at fly-half this autumn, and Farrell's selection at 10 with Ben Te'o at 12 suggests Jones is looking to tweak the style of play.

Up front, England look callow. The props Alec Hepburn and Kyle Sinckler lack starting experience, while the back row of Brad Shields, Mark Wilson and Tom Curry have just 10 caps between them.

There is more inexperience on the bench - with Ben Moon and Zach Mercer set for debuts - but there is the welcome return of Manu Tuilagi - the 27-year-old will provide some much needed power off the bench against a resurgent Springbok side.


England: Elliot Daly; Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te'o, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (co-captain), Ben Youngs; Alec Hepburn, Dylan Hartley (co-captain), Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Brad Shields, Tom Curry, Mark Wilson.

Replacements: Jamie George, Ben Moon, Harry Williams, Charlie Ewels, Zach Mercer, Danny Care, George Ford, Manu Tuilagi.

South Africa: Damian Willemse; Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard, Ivan van Zyl; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit, Wilco Louw, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Embrose Papier, Elton Jantjies, Andre Esterhuizen.


Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.


Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC