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England have named George Ford at fly-half in their only change for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Wales at Parc y Scarlets.
Ford has been reinstated as playmaker-in-chief after making his comeback from an Achilles injury as a replacement in last weekend’s resounding 18-7 victory over Ireland at Twickenham.
The midfield adjustment is partially a result of Ollie Lawrence suffering a hip problem and the knock-on effect is to see captain Owen Farrell join Henry Slade in the centres.
Your team to face Wales 🌹
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) November 26, 2020
While the rest of the starting XV – including the pack that submitted Ireland in such brutal fashion – have been retained, Eddie Jones has made some adjustments to the bench.
Jack Willis is poised to win his second cap after being included in a six-two split between forwards and backs alongside fellow flanker Ben Earl and lock Jonny Hill.
Ellis Genge has held off the challenge of Joe Marler to supply loosehead prop cover for Mako Vunipola.
For this first time this autumn, Marler was available having recovered from a knee injury but Jones has opted to leave him out of the 23, potentially in a nod to his history with Wales.
Had he been picked, the Lions front row would have been making his first international appearance since grabbing Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones by the genitals in March, an offence that incurred a 10-week ban.
Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie wins back his place as an explosive deputy to Jamie George following his battle with a knee complaint and Anthony Watson supplies back three cover having shaken off an ankle issue.
It would be a major upset for England to not finish top of Group A and set-up a tournament final against France at Twickenham on December 6.
Wales ended their six-match losing run when they dispatched Georgia last weekend but they remain vulnerable, with head coach Wayne Pivac under pressure to orchestrate a turnaround.
“We’re expecting another tough match, and at the home of Welsh rugby where the heart and soul of their game is,” England head coach Jones said.
“Twelve months ago, Wales were Grand Slam champions and three points from a World Cup final, so we know what they are capable of.
“We’ve picked the best 23 players for the battle and we’re looking forward to it greatly.”