Bath Rugby quartet named in England squad to face Japan

15 November 2018

Bath Rugby's Joe Cokanasiga, Charlie Ewels, Zach Mercer and Sam Underhill have all been named in the England squad to face Japan on Saturday at Twickenham, kick-off 15:00. 

Cokanasiga will make his international debut on the right wing, with Mercer marking his first start for his country at number eight. Ewels will start in the second row alongside Saracens' Maro Itoje, with Underhill taking his place among the replacements. 

There are 11 changes to the starting XV which faced New Zealand last weekend with two positional switches.
George Ford (Leicester Tigers) will start at fly half and captain England in his 50th match.
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) and Alex Lozowski (Saracens) are the centre pairing while Saturday’s try-scorer Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks) moves from right to left wing.
The uncapped apprentice Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors) is named as a finisher. For the first time this series Danny Care (Harlequins) will start at scrum half with Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens) on the bench.
There are three changes to the front row with Exeter Chiefs’ props Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams starting alongside Saracens’ hooker Jamie George. England’s starting front three against New Zealand are named as finishers.
Ewels (Bath Rugby) will start in the second row in place of the injured George Kruis (Saracens) and will partner Maro Itoje (Saracens) who is named as vice-captain.
In other changes to the forward pack, Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) will play blindside flanker with Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) switching from number 8 to openside flanker. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) will make his first start for England at number 8.
Eddie Jones said: “Japan is an important game for us as we want to get back to winning ways. We have also tested ourselves in having a shorter preparation. We gave the players two days off after three weeks of intensive work. We have had a short preparation but a good preparation.”
On the squad selected Jones added: “This weekend is a good opportunity for us to test the depth of the squad. A number of players have changed their roles going from finishers to starters and starters to finishers so that is the essential change to the squad. It is exciting to be able to give starting opportunities to Zach Mercer and Joe Cokanasiga and young Ted Hill on the bench.
On Ford as captain, he said: “It’s a wonderful moment for him and his family. Fifty caps and captaining the side is a great honour and every game he plays for England he gives his absolute best.”
On Japan he added: “We are expecting plenty of energy, aggression and fast ball movement. They will be full of surprises, quick taps, lineouts and plays.  They are going to have a bag of magic.”
Jones said on the Twickenham factor: “Last week the fans were absolutely exceptional in the atmosphere they created for the players. It was the best I have seen and we are looking forward to more of that on Saturday.”
Japan have won 11 of their last 17 matches in Europe, drawing one and losing five. Their last game on the continent saw them draw 23-23 with France last November.
This is only the second Test match between the two countries. The first was a Rugby World Cup match in 1987 with England beating Japan 60-7 in Sydney, Australia.
England team to face Japan 

15. Elliot Daly (Wasps, 23 caps)
14. Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, uncapped)
13. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 28 caps)
12. Alex Lozowski (Saracens, 4 caps)
11. Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks, 41 caps)
10. George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 49 caps) captain
9. Danny Care (Harlequins, 83 caps)
1. Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 30 caps)
3. Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 13 caps)
4. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 8 caps)
5. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 24 caps) vice-captain
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 66 caps)
7. Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 6 caps)
8. Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby, 1 cap)
16. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 95 caps)
17. Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps)
18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 15 caps)
19. Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors, uncapped)
20. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 7 caps)
21. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 31 caps)
22. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 63 caps)
23. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 15 caps)

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