Marcus Smith to start for England against Australia with Manu Tuilagi on wing as Owen Farrell returns

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones has sprung a huge surprise for Saturday’s clash with Australia by opting to start Manu Tuilagi on the wing.

Sale Sharks centre Tuilagi has played there just once for England, back in 2014, but has been moved there as captain Owen Farrell is back in the side.

Farrell, who missed last week’s 69-3 win over Tonga due to a false positive for Covid-19, is starting at inside-centre and Harlequins star Marcus Smith is deployed at fly-half.

Smith impressed off the bench against Tonga and comes into the side in place of George Furbank, who is not in the 23-man squad, while Tuilagi’s shift to wing means Adam Radwan also misses out completely.

Other than that, Jones has named the same side who beat Tonga and the pack is unchanged, with Saracens lock Maro Itoje set to win his 50th cap.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Tuilagi’s inclusion on the wing has sprung many by surprise, but Jones said: “All I see is a powerful player, who is in the best condition of his career that will add to the ball players to finish off movements that we have.

“He will be able to roam on the field, he will be able to play like a second or third centre. I think l last season Gael Fickou particularly played on the wing for France and was outstanding.

“We decided we will pick the best players and they will mix and match on the field to their strengths. We believe this is the best backline for this game.”

Jones has also opted to name six forwards on the bench, with two of those being No8s as both Harelquins’ Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds of Exeter Chiefs make the cut.

Simmonds, who toured with the British and Irish Lions this summer, could make his first England appearance since 2018.

Saracens full-back Max Malins, who can also operate on the wing, has come onto the bench too and so has uncapped Sale Sharks scrum-half Raffi Quirke.

Quirke’s team-mate, prop Bevan Rodd, is also on the bench and could make his debut after being called up due to Harlequins’ Joe Marler testing positive for Covid-19 this week.

England are looking to win their eighth game in a row against Australia, but Jones is not taking the country of his birth lightly.

“This is game they don’t go away. This is game they want to win,” he said. “We have a bit of inferiority complex against the English, the Australians.”

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