Manu Tuilagi surprise selection on wing for England’s clash with Australia

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Manu Tuilagi has been picked on the wing for England’s clash with Australia (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Archive)
Manu Tuilagi has been picked on the wing for England’s clash with Australia (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Archive)

Manu Tuilagi is a surprise selection on the wing for Saturday’s clash with Australia as England make room in their midfield for Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell.

Tuilagi’s only previous Test appearance in the position came on tour against New Zealand in 2014 and the experiment was immediately abandoned by Eddie Jones’ predecessor as head coach, Stuart Lancaster.

The decision is shaped by Jones’ desire to field Smith at fly-half and Farrell at inside centre in a dual playmaker partnership for the Autumn Nations showdown at Twickenham.

Adam Radwan makes way for Tuilagi’s switch to the right wing and the Newcastle try machine can not even win a place on the bench despite a record of four touch downs in two Tests.

Henry Slade was a candidate to make way for the return of Farrell, who was ruled out of the 69-3 victory over Tonga by a false-positive test for Covid-19, but his man-of-the-match performance has convinced Jones to axe Radwan instead.

Marcus Smith scored one of England’s 11 tries in their 69-3 win over Tonga (PA)
Marcus Smith scored one of England’s 11 tries in their 69-3 win over Tonga (PA)

England’s pack remains unchanged with Maro Itoje set to win his 50th cap, while a six-two split on the bench sees a return for Sam Simmonds.

Jones said: “We know this will be a tough test for us, we’re playing against a team who have been together a while and who have beat the world champions twice. As an Australian I know how much this game means.

“We’ve had a really good week of preparation, we’re looking to improve our performance this week and I think this side is building well.”

ENGLAND XV

15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps) 14. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 44 caps) 13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 41 caps) 12. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 93 caps) 11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 67 caps) 10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 3 caps) 9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 110 caps)

1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps) 2. Jamie George (Saracens, 60 caps) 3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 45 caps) 4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 49 caps) 5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 10 caps) 6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 88 caps) 7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 25 caps) 8. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 34 caps)

FINISHERS: 16. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 3 caps) 17. Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, uncapped) 18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 13 caps) 19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 24 caps) 20. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 2 caps) 21. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps) 22. Raffi Quirke (Sale Sharks, uncapped) 23. Max Malins (Saracens, 8 caps)

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