Ford to captain England on 50th cap against Japan

George Ford will captain England on his 50th cap as Eddie Jones makes 11 changes from the defeat to New Zealand for Saturday’s clash with Japan.

George Ford will captain England on his 50th cap as Eddie Jones makes 11 changes from the defeat to New Zealand for Saturday’s clash with Japan.

Ford will start at fly-half as 21-year-old Bath Rugby winger Joe Cokanasiga makes his international debut.

Jack Nowell comes in to partner Alex Lozowski as the centre pairing while Saturday’s try-scorer Chris Ashton moves from right to left wing to accommodate Cokanasiga.

Danny Care starts at scrum half for the first time in his career with Richard Wigglesworth featuring among the replacements.

Worcester Warriors 19-year-old talent Ted Hill is a surprise inclusion in the side that faces off at Twickenham as he is named as a replacement.

Jones has named three changes in the front row with all three starters against New Zealand among the replacements as Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams start alongside Saracens hooker Jamie George.

With George Kruis injured, Charlie Ewels starts in second row and will partner Maro Itoje – who is named as vice-captain for the fixture.

Courtney Lawes comes in at blindside flanker with Mark Wilson moving from No.8 to openside flanker.

The final change sees Zach Mercer make his first start for England at number eight.

England head coach Eddie Jones has tasked his side to bounce back from the narrow defeat to New Zealand as England continue their preparation towards the 2019 Six Nations.

He 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.”

“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.”

Ford will captain England for the first time in his career and Jones believes the 25-year-old will rise to the challenge against a difficult Japan outfit.

Jones 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.”

“We are expecting plenty of energy, aggression and fast ball movement. They [Japan] will be full of surprises, quick taps, lineouts and plays.  They are going to have a bag of magic.”

“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.”

England XV to face Japan:

15. Elliot Daly, 14. Joe Cokanasiga, 13. Jack Nowell, 12. Alex Lozowski, 11. Chris Ashton, 10. George Ford (c), 9. Danny Care, 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Jamie George, 3. Harry Williams, 4. Charlie Ewels, 5. Maro Itoje, 6. Courtney Lawes, 7. Mark Wilson, 8. Zach Mercer

Replacements: 16. Dylan Hartley, 17. Ben Moon, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Ted Hill, 20. Sam Underhill, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Owen Farrell, 23. Henry Slade