CAPE TOWN – England Eddie Jones has made his intentions clear of wanting to take on the Springboks physically by picking Owen Farrell at flyhalf for Saturday’s showdown at Twickenham.
Jones sprung a surprise by naming Farrell at No 10 on Thursday, instead of his usual inside centre berth under the Australian’s tenure.
George Ford has normally operated at pivot alongside Farrell.
But with Jones perhaps wary of the damage that big Bok No 10 and 12 Handré Pollard and Damian de Allende can inflict, the England coach has bulked up the inside backs further by choosing Ben Te’o at No 12.
The New Zealand-born Te’o is 1.90m and weighs 106kg, and Farrell 1.85m and 96kg – Ford comes in at just 1.75m and 86kg.
Outside centre Henry Slade is no slouch either in the size stakes at 1.88m and 95kg, and was chosen ahead of the powerful but stocky Manu Tuilagi (1.85m and 110kg), who is on the bench.
As expected, Elliot Daly is at fullback after Mike Brown was dropped earlier this week, while Jones has been cautious in his loose trio, with uncapped Zach Mercer on the bench, and Mark Wilson and Tom Curry joining Brad Shields.
There is a relative new face at prop, where Alec Hepburn will make his first Test start, while there is a welcome return for lock George Kruis.
“We’ve become very well organised in our set-piece and have done a lot of good work in Portugal over the last week. We have put in a new defence system and our attack looks more organised than it was on the South Africa tour,” Jones said on the England team website.
“Against South Africa, you have got the physical battle upfront, and then you have to be tactically smart in how you attack against them.
“We need to find ways to gain momentum, then once we find momentum, convert that to points.
“We are really excited to be back at Twickenham Stadium. It’s been a long time, and we can’t wait to play in front of 82 000 fans.”
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will announce his team at 4pm SA time on Thursday, with kickoff on Saturday at 5pm SA time.
15 Elliot Daly 14 Jack Nowell 13 Henry Slade 12 Ben Te’o 11 Jonny May 10 Owen Farrell (co-captain) 9 Ben Youngs 8 Mark Wilson 7 Tom Curry 6 Brad Shields 5 George Kruis 4 Maro Itoje 3 Kyle Sinckler 2 Dylan Hartley (co-captain) 1 Alec Hepburn.
Bench: 16 Jamie George 17 Ben Moon 18 Harry Williams 19 Charlie Ewels 20 Zach Mercer 21 Danny Care 22 George Ford 23 Manu Tuilagi.@ashfakmohamed