Rugby-Marchant on the wing for England against South Africa

Joe Marchant was a surprise selection on the wing for England in their World Cup final re-run against South Africa on Saturday as coach Eddie Jones shored up his team's ability to deal with an expected aerial bombardment from the Springboks. Manu Tuilagi returns to his familiar inside centre role alongside Henry Slade, and Marcus Smith is again at flyhalf.


Reuters | Updated: 18-11-2021 20:24 IST | Created: 18-11-2021 20:23 IST
Rugby-Marchant on the wing for England against South Africa
Representative image Image Credit: pixabay

Joe Marchant was a surprise selection on the wing for England in their World Cup final re-run against South Africa on Saturday as coach Eddie Jones shored up his team's ability to deal with an expected aerial bombardment from the Springboks.

Manu Tuilagi returns to his familiar inside centre role alongside Henry Slade, and Marcus Smith is again at flyhalf. In the absence of the injured Owen Farrell, flanker Courtney Lawes will captain the side for a second time. Jamie Blamire's remarkable international journey continues as he starts as hooker, having scored six tries in his previous four tests while struggling to get a start for his club Newcastle.

Bevan Rodd, who had an impressive debut last week, again props with Kyle Sinckler. Uncapped hooker Nic Dolly is on the bench, alongside prop Joe Marler, who will rejoin the squad later on Thursday after COVID isolation. Jonny May has been a fixture on the left wing in the three autumn tests but after choosing Adam Radwan against Tonga and Tuilagi against Australia, Jones sprung another surprise with the inclusion of Marchant.

The Harlequins man, more usually a centre, will be making his second England start - his other came in a 2019 World Cup warm up against Italy - and his first appearance of the autumn series. And though England have the enormous Freddie Steward at fullback, Jones saw the need for more aerial power on Saturday.

"We know that South Africa are going to come through the air, they have a fairly stated game plan and winning the air is an important part of their game," Jones told reporters. "We feel that Joe Marchant is one of the best in England in the air, so it brings an ability to contest in the air really well, he's a strong defender and strong runner with the ball so it suits the way we want to play this week." Jones also delivered one of his trademark pre-match trumpet calls.

"They said after the World Cup final, where they beat us fair and square, that they knew how to play us, they knew where our weaknesses were and they were implying that our forward pack was weak," said the Australian. "Our forward pack's not weak and we'll have an opportunity on Saturday to show that. We looking forward to taking them on in that physicality and we're also looking forward to try to expose the weaknesses in their game that they do have.

"There are opportunities to hurt them in other ways and we have to be brave enough to take those opportunities." The Australian said his thoughts were with former Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis and his family following the drowning death of his 10-month-old son in a swimming pool in South Africa. "We understand how terrible that must be for the family," Jones said. "I had the pleasure of coaching Jannie and (brother) Bismarck in 2007 and he's a fine young man and we just wish his family all the best - that comes from England rugby."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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