England v USA: Marcus Smith and captain Lewis Ludlow among eight debutants for Twickenham clash

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Harlequins’ Marcus Smith during his inspirational performance in the Premiership Final (Getty Images for Harlequins)
Harlequins’ Marcus Smith during his inspirational performance in the Premiership Final (Getty Images for Harlequins)

Marcus Smith will start at fly-half in an England side captained by Gloucester’s Lewis Ludlow – one of eight debutants – against the USA at Twickenham on Sunday.

Smith guided Harlequins to the Premiership title against Exeter last weekend, and now makes his first Test appearance.

There is no space this week for his club-mate Alex Dombrandt, who will hope to make his debut against Canada next weekend. Quins’ Jack Kenningham and Joe Marchant also sit out, but Exeter’s Henry Slade comes straight into the side.

Smith starts alongside another uncapped player, Harry Randall, at half-back, while Leicester’s Freddie Steward makes his debut from full-back.

Up front, there are debuts for hooker Curtis Langdon, prop Joe Heyes, lock Josh McNally, flanker Ludlow and No8 Callum Chick.

Ludlow becomes just the fifth man to captain England on debut, and first since Nigel Melville in 1984.

England side to face USA

15 F.Steward (Leicester); 14 J.Cokanasiga (Bath), 13 H.Slade (Exeter), 12 O.Lawrence (Worcester), 11 M.Malins (Saracens); 10 M.Smith (Harlequins), 9 H.Randall (Bristol); 1 E.Genge (Leicester), 2 C.Langdon (Sale), 3 J.Heyes (Leicester); 4 J.McNally (Bath), 5 C.Ewels (Bath); 6 L.Ludlow (Gloucester, captain), 7 S.Underhill (Bath), 8 C.Chick (Newcastle).

Replacements:

16 J.Blamire (Newcastle), 17 B.Obano (Bath), 18 T.Davison (Newcastle), 19 T.Hill (Worcester), 20 B.Curry (Sale), 21 L.Ludlam (Northampton), 22 D.Robson (Wasps), 23 J.Umaga (Wasps)

There are four more uncapped players on a 6-2 bench, including Ben Curry – Tom’s twin – and Jacob Umaga.

The senior players in the side are Sam Underhill, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge and Slade. There are big opportunities for Joe Cokanasiga in his first game since the 2019 World Cup group stages and Ollie Lawrence and Max Malins.

England are missing 12 players on Lions duty and have rested others. An “A” fixture against Scotland, due to be captained by Ludlow, was cancelled last weekend due to positve Covid-19 tests in the Scottish camp.

Head coach Eddie Jones said: “Over the past three weeks our biggest message to the players is what an opportunity this is to show what they can do and make their mark with England.

“They’ve applied themselves as a group and worked very hard individually during this camp to reach their personal bests.

“Now it’s all about coming together as a team, gelling and putting in a good performance at the weekend.”

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