Jonny May has recovered after dislocating his elbow last month; David Ribbans is set to make his England debut at lock; Manu Tuilagi and Billy Vunipola are among England’s replacements as Guy Porter starts in midfield alongside captain Owen Farrell and Sam Simmonds is named at No 8
Jonny May returns for England as head coach Eddie Jones makes five changes for Saturday’s home Test match against Japan.
May comes in for Joe Cokanasiga out wide with Jack van Poortvliet selected to start at scrum-half. Owen Farrell will lead England out at Twickenham and earn his 99th international cap. Marcus Smith stays at fly-half.
David Ribbans will make his England debut at lock and he will play alongside Jonny Hill in the engine room. Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Kyle Sinckler form England’s front-row unit.
Sam Simmonds is handed the No 8 jersey instead of Billy Vunipola, who moves to the bench. Manu Tuilagi will also be among the replacements as Guy Porter links up with captain Farrell in midfield.
Jamie George looks to have completed an impressive comeback to fitness after breaking two metatarsals on club duty for Saracens on October 1. He is named on England’s bench alongside club team-mate Mako Vunipola.
Japan – the Brave Blossoms – are a side England have never lost to in their history. They have not faced one another since November 2018, though, and Japan pushed the All Blacks all the way in October, eventually losing 38-31.
“The attitude and the determination of the players to put together the best team in the world is high,” England head coach Eddie Jones said.
“We had a setback last week; I acknowledge that our performance wasn’t good enough and I take full responsibility for that. We’ve had a really good week, a really vibrant week and we’re ready to take on Japan.”
With Porter selected to start alongside Farrell in midfield, Jones explained the rational for Tuilagi’s move to the bench.
“It’s all about workload,” Jones said. “We just feel with Manu’s injury record to play four big games in a row is probably not in his best interests at the moment.
“So, we’ve given him a lighter week training, he’ll still be able to finish for us and Guy was an instrumental player for us on the Australian tour. He’s been out injured so it’s great to have him back.”
England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 David Ribbans, 5 Jonny Hill, 6 Maro Itoje, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Manu Tuilagi.
Japan: 15. Ryohei Yamanaka, 14. Kotaro Matsushima, 13. Dylan Riley, 12. Ryoto Nakamura, 11. Gerhard Van den Heever, 10. Takuya Yamasawa, 9. Yutaka Nagare, 1. Keita Inagaki, 2. Atsushi Sakate, 3. Jiwon Gu, 4. Warner Dearns, 5. Jack Cornelsen, 6. Michael Leitch, 7. Kazuki Himeno, 8. Tevita Tatafu.
Replacements: 16. Kosuke Horikoshi, 17. Craig Millar, 18. Yusuke Kizu, 19. Wimoie Van der Walt, 20. Pieter Labuschagne, 21. Naoto Saito, 22. Seungsin Lee, 23. Siosaia Fifita
Steward: England squad needed to ‘look at ourselves’ after Argentina loss
Following their 30-29 defeat to Argentina last weekend, full-back Freddie Steward said England’s squad had frustrated themselves with the decisions they made.
It was the first time in 16 years England had suffered a loss to Los Pumas at Twickenham Stadium.
“I think we had to look at ourselves really with our discipline,” Steward said.
“We made some decisions that probably weren’t right with the context of the game and how the game went, so that was frustrating.
“We’ve had some good discussions and have got a plan in place, so hopefully we get a result against Japan. It was a frustrating day for us really. Obviously we’re very disappointed with the result.”
For 21-year-old Leicester Tiger Steward, who has excelled since breaking onto the Test scene this time last year, Japan are a side he has yet to face and one he is looking forward to locking horns with.
“Very excited. I’ve never played Japan before, and they play an exciting brand of rugby,” Steward exclusively told Sky Sports.
“There’s a good buzz around camp at the minute and the boys are excited to get into it on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us. They like to zip the ball around, edge-to-edge, so defensively we’re going to have to be on it, and in attack see what we can offer.
“Our attack didn’t perhaps click the way we wanted it to on Sunday, and that will be the main focus of the session later.
“It’s difficult. Everyone comes in from different places and you’ve got to be to gel quickly and be able to play out there together.
“It’s not something that’s going to happen instantly, we understand that, but we’re doing everything we can behind the scenes to build those relationships and make sure it all gels come the weekend.”