Le sport

Englands Rodd and Blamire start against Springboks

England can change the course of rugby history – Jones
Venue: Twickenham Stadium Date: Saturday, 20 November Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Coverage: Follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Sale prop Bevan Rodd and Newcastle hooker Jamie Blamire start in a rookie England front row for Saturday’s Test with world champions South Africa.

Prop Joe Marler, who will not train until Friday after isolating with Covid-19, is named on the bench, as is uncapped hooker Nic Dolly.

Joe Marchant is on the wing with Manu Tuilagi returning to the midfield.

Flanker Courtney Lawes captains the side at Twickenham in the absence of the injured Owen Farrell.

England’s last meeting with South Africa was the 2019 World Cup final in which the Springbok pack dominated to claim a 32-12 win.

Ex-British and Irish Lions prop Alex Corbisiero said during the week that England would face an “uphill battle” against the world champions without the experience of Jamie George.

So Rodd, receiving his second cap, and Blamire, gaining his fifth, face a tough Test at Twickenham, with prop Kyle Sinckler offering more international expertise in the front row.

George’s injury offers 23-year-old Blamire the chance to continue a remarkable England journey that has seen him score six tries in four games, having only ever started three times previously for club Newcastle.

Jamie Blamire celebrates a try with Freddie Steward and Sam Simmonds
Jamie Blamire (left) starts, with hooker Jamie George injured

England’s scrum will be propped up by six forwards on the bench, with number eights Alex Dombrandt and Sam Simmonds both named once again.

Head coach Eddie Jones said: “They said after the World Cup final, where they beat us fair and square, that they knew how to play us, they knew where our weaknesses were and they were implying that our forward pack was weak.

“Our forward pack’s not weak and we’ll have an opportunity on Saturday to show that.

“We are looking forward to taking them on in that physicality and we’re also looking forward to try to expose the weaknesses in their game that they do have.

“There are opportunities to hurt them in other ways and we have to be brave enough to take those opportunities.”

Marchant ‘one of England’s best in the air’

Joe Marchant takes the ball in the air as Freddie Steward looks on
Joe Marchant (right) made his only other start for England in 2019

In the backs, centre Marchant is the third different right wing chosen by Jones in as many matches.

Adam Radwan started against Tonga and Tuilagi against Australia with Max Malins also an option but selected on the bench for Saturday’s game.

It will be Marchant’s second England start and his first appearance of the autumn series, with Jones saying his inclusion is to help cope with the kicking threat posed by South Africa.

“We know that South Africa are going to come through the air, they have a fairly stated gameplan and winning the air is an important part of their game,” he explained.

“We feel that Joe Marchant is one of the best in England in the air, so it brings an ability to contest in the air really well, he’s a strong defender and strong runner with the ball so it suits the way we want to play this week.”

Fly-half Marcus Smith starts for the second week in a row and this time will partner Tuilagi in midfield, with Henry Slade at outside centre.

England have claimed convincing wins against Tonga and Australia so far this autumn, but Jones said Saturday’s match will be the side’s “biggest game of the season”, adding: “We want to finish with a bang.”

England: Steward; Marchant, Slade, Tuilagi, May; Smith, Youngs; Rodd, Blamire, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Lawes (capt), Underhill, Curry.

Replacements: Dolly, Marler, Stuart, Ewels, Simmonds, Dombrandt, Quirke, Malins.

South Africa: Le Roux; Kriel, Am, De Allende, Mapimpi; Pollard, Reinach; Nche, Mbonambi, Nyakane, Etzebeth, De Jager, Kolisi, Smith, Vermeulen.

Replacements: Marx, Kitshoff, Koch, Mostert, Wiese, H Jantjies, E Jantjies, Steyn.