England omit Tuilagi and Vunipola for Japan Test as Porter, Van Poortvliet and Simmonds start in five changes

England omit Tuilagi and Vunipola for Japan Test as Porter, Van Poortvliet and Simmonds start in five changes

Eddie Jones has omitted powerhouse pair Manu Tuilagi and Billy Vunipola from England’s starting lineup for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series Test against Japan at Twickenham.

Leicester’s Guy Porter starts at outside centre, while Exeter’s Sam Simmonds slots in at number eight. David Ribbans will make his Test debut at lock, replacing his Northampton club-mate Alex Coles in England’s engine room.

Leicester’s Jack van Poortvliet starts at scrum-half to give England an injection of pace, with Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell retained in the key 10-12 axis.

England started their four-Test November run with a shock 30-29 loss to Argentina last weekend, leaving boss Jones demanding an immediate reaction.

Jones revealed England were carefully managing Tuilagi’s appearances, with the Sale wrecking-ball still working past historic injuries and having battled a troublesome blister across the course of the week.

Manu Tuilagi failed to impress for England in their shock defeat by Argentina at Twickenham (Getty Images)
Manu Tuilagi failed to impress for England in their shock defeat by Argentina at Twickenham (Getty Images)

“We’ve worked hard this week to improve on last week’s performance,” said Jones. “We’ve taken a good look at our preparation and we are happy with our position going into the game.

“We’ve made a few changes to the side as we play these four games in November. In particular with Manu we are balancing his workload.

“Japan are a very good and intriguing side. They play a unique type of rugby based on continuity and team cohesion and we’ll have to be at our best against them at Twickenham on Saturday.”

Jonny May will make his first start since November 2021, replacing Joe Cokanasiga on the wing. Bath’s Cokanasiga scored one of England’s two tries last weekend, but has dropped out of the matchday 23 entirely for the Brave Blossoms clash.

England team to play Japan at Twickenham on Saturday: F Steward, J Nowell, G Porter, O Farrell, J May, M Smith, J Van Poortvliet, E Genge, L Cowan-Dickie, K Sinckler, D Ribbans, J Hill, M Itoje, T Curry, S Simmonds.

Replacements: J George, M Vunipola, J Heyes, A Coles, B Vunipola, B Youngs, H Slade, M Tuilagi.