England: Manu Tuilagi wins 50th cap as Mako Vunipola, Tommy Freeman and Alex Coles handed starts against South Africa

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Manu Tuilagi is set to make his 50th appearance for England in their Autumn Nations Series encounter against South Africa on Saturday.

The centre made his debut back in 2011 and has been a guaranteed starter when fit but has struggled with injury throughout his career.

Tuilagi missed out on the Australia series in July but has played in every match during the November internationals.

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After impressing against Argentina in England’s first game of the end-of-year series, Alex Coles returns to the side as Eddie Jones brings back the hybrid forward.

Coles starts on the blindside against the Springboks as head coach Jones decides to keep Maro Itoje at lock – having featured in the back-row against Los Pumas and Japan.

The loose trio is completed by Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola with Sam Simmonds moving to the bench, despite impressing against New Zealand.

Vunipola is joined by his brother Mako in the pack, who is rewarded for his impact in the draw with the All Blacks, while Jamie George is given the nod ahead of Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Behind the scrum, youngster Jack van Poortvliet retains his place, despite his struggles last weekend, and he once again partners Marcus Smith at half-back.

Owen Farrell continues at centre as Jones opts to keep the Smith-Farrell playmaking axis in place.

In the back three, Tommy Freeman returns to the XV after missing the early part of the Autumn Nations Series through injury and he combines with Freddie Steward and Jonny May.

Steady progress

“This is our last game of the autumn and our chance to continue building on the improvements we have made throughout the matches,” said Jones.

“We have made steady progress from game-to-game, culminating in a pulsating draw against New Zealand.

“Now we have the chance to test ourselves against the might of the world champions. We’re going out there to light the crowd up.

“The support at Twickenham was outstanding last week and we want to work hard on the pitch to make sure we have another atmosphere like that again on Saturday.”

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Alex Coles, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jack Nowell

Date: Saturday, November 26
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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The article England: Manu Tuilagi wins 50th cap as Mako Vunipola, Tommy Freeman and Alex Coles handed starts against South Africa appeared first on Planetrugby.com.