England boss Eddie Jones has challenged his squad players to press their World Cup case after ringing the changes for tomorrow’s autumn-ending clash with Samoa at Twickenham.
Jones has made nine changes from last weekend’s victory over Australia, including the dropping of Dylan Hartley to the bench for the first time during his tenure and handing fellow hooker Jamie George his first England start.
Exeter back-row forward Sam Simmonds has also been handed his full debut, while Saracens back Alex Lozowski and Henry Slade have been paired together at centre with Owen Farrell again rested.
“This week it is an opportunity for some squad members who haven’t been playing to put their best foot forward,” said Jones. “This is an exciting squad to play against Samoa and we are expecting them to be immensely physical and committed.
“We want to follow up last week’s performance against Australia and play better again this week. Our intent in every game and every training session is to be better. We will have to play smart and will need to find ways to win the contest.”
Injuries to Nathan Hughes and Sam Underhill mean Chris Robshaw will make his first start at openside since Jones took the England reins, despite the Australian’s previous reservations that the former skipper was a “six-and-a-half at best”.
Robshaw and fly-half George Ford have been handed the responsibility of being England’s co-captains. Jones added: “This is a great opportunity to show the depth in the squad and the depth of leadership.
“During the World Cup we have a four-day turnaround so this is a fantastic dress rehearsal. “We’ve just finished two tough games. Dylan did a reconditioning programme this week and hasn’t been training with the team, Mako [Vunipola] as well.”
After a match-winning contribution from the bench against the Wallabies, Danny Care is set to start at scrum-half, while Mike Brown, who missed the pervious match due to concussion, returns at full-back.
Leicester prop Ellis Genge has been named in the front row, Charlie Ewels at lock following a successful tour of Argentina and teenage second row Nick Isiekwe among the replacements.