Eddie Jones gave Tommy Freeman a start and strengthened his pack for Saturday’s clash with South Africa at Twickenham, selecting Mako Vunipola and Jamie George. Jones also gave Alex Coles a second start and dropped his two vice-captains as England seek a second win of the autumn campaign.
Freeman replaces Nowell on the right wing while Vunipola replaces Ellis Genge at the loose accessory and George gets the nod in place of Luke Cowan-Dickie. Coles arrives in the back row on the blind flank of Sam Simmonds, preferred over Northampton team-mate David Ribbans. Jones also kept faith in Jack van Poortvliet at scrum-half despite his obvious struggles against New Zealand.
Freeman, 21, is making his first appearance this fall, having impressed in his first two caps against Australia in the summer. Nowell falls to the bench after struggling against the All Blacks. Vunipola and George both impressed against New Zealand from the bench last week – the latter’s inclusion coming despite his admission this week that his broken foot is still not properly healed. Ribbans may consider himself unlucky to miss Coles given his impact off the bench against New Zealand.
Elsewhere, Manu Tuilagi wins his 50th cap out of the centre, with Jones resisting the temptation to start Henry Slade – another who caught the eye against the All Blacks. Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell continue their 10-12 partnership while Jones remains loyal to Jonny May as well as Freddie Steward and Van Poortvliet, another 21-year-old pair.
In front, Kyle Sinckler, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola all keep their place. Cowan-Dickie, Genge and Will Stuart – who scored two tries in the spectacular comeback against New Zealand – provide replacement first-tier coverage. Ribbans, Simmonds, Ben Youngs, Slade and Nowell are also on the bench.
“This is our last game of the fall and our chance to continue building on the improvements we’ve made throughout the games,” Jones said. “We made steady progress from game to game, culminating in a thrilling draw against New Zealand.
“Now we have the chance to test ourselves against the power of the world champions. We are going there to light up the crowd. The support at Twickenham has been outstanding last week and we want to work hard on the pitch to make sure we can to have another atmosphere like that on Saturday.