Autumn Internationals 2018: England team to play South Africa

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones has named the England team to take on South Africa at Twickenham this weekend.

Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) and Owen Farrell (Saracens) are named as co-captains in a starting XV which includes 413 caps.

Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs) will make his starting debut for England while uncapped players Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby) and Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs) are named as finishers.

George Kruis (Saracens), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) and Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors) are included for the first time since last season’s Six Nations.

Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) is named as a finisher having last played for England against Wales in the 2016 Six Nations.

“We’ve become very well organised in our set piece and have done a lot of good work in Portugal over the last week,” said Jones. “We have put in a new defence system and our attack looks more organised than it was on the South Africa tour.”

On taking on South Africa Jones said: “Against South Africa you have got the physical battle up front and then you have to be tactically smart in how you attack against them. We need to find ways to gain momentum, then once we find momentum, convert that to points.

“We are really excited to be back at Twickenham Stadium. It’s been a long time and we can’t wait to play in front of 82,000 fans.”

England starting XV

15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 21 caps)
14 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 26 caps)
13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 13 caps)
12 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 13 caps)
11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 37 caps)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 61 caps) co-captain
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 77 caps)

1 Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps)
2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 93 caps) co-captain
3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 13 caps)
4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 22 caps)
5 George Kruis (Saracens, 25 caps)
6 Brad Shields (Wasps, 2 caps)
7 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 4 caps)
8 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 4 caps)

16 Jamie George (Saracens, 28 caps), 17 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped), 18 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 11 caps), 19 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 6 caps) , 20 Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby, uncapped), 21 Danny Care (Harlequins, 81 caps), 22 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 47 caps), 23 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 26 caps).

Is this the team you would have picked? How do you think the game will go?

26 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals 2018: England team to play South Africa

  1. I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by the pack. Itoje where he belongs in the second row. Wilson at 8 is interesting and Shields is at least in his proper position at 6, even if I personally don’t think he should be there at all
    Unconvinced by Te’o generally and even more so given he’s barely played for some time. But on the plus side I think Slade should find it easier to play outside of that type of player – and this really should be the last chance saloon for Slade. I’m sure he has the ability to be a top-class international but he’s failed to show any kind of consistency to date. He needs a big game.
    Looking forward to Mercer and Ewels getting some time on the field but am not sure about the backs replacements. Ford, Care and Tuilagi don’t fill me with confidence that they could turn a losing game round or even finish off a lead
    But in conclusion – it could have been worse!

    1. Yes, people mostly in their right places. Nothing that new to add really except to ask a few ?’s like are Wilson & Shields the ball carriers in the absence of a proper one, like Morgan! Are Slade & Teo going to unpick the SA defence, or will the latter simply try & batter his way through? Has Jones missed an innovative trick by not having Daly @ centre? And what does moving Farrell to 10 mean? Ford suddenly doesn’t cut it? Or is EJ losing his nerve, going back on his previous pick @ fly1/2 , belatedly changing horses midstream & thereby eschewing midfield creativity? Time’ll tell pretty quick In guess.

      1. Whilst I’m not convinced by Te’o in his current form, I don’t think that his selection is a backwards step in midfield creativity.
        One of England’s recent problems, in my view, has been too many ball players in mid field and not enough direct runners. Sometimes you just need to go forward!
        Slade is an inventive player at his best and a very able fly half as well and it may be that his ability to play his natural game has been stifled by having 2 other fly halves playing inside him.
        Hopefully having a stong, direct runner at 12 will draw in defenders leaving space for Slade to exploit from 13 – a la Nonu and Smith.

        1. Slade had one of his best games with Burgess inside of him, so your theory of Slade being best utilised with a bosher at 12 would appear to hold a lot of water!

          Whilst I am an Exeter fan and therefore a little biased I do think that Slade has been creatively stifled as you say and hasn’t been able to showcase himself on a consistent basis for England. It looks as though he has beefed up a tad this season as well as adding a bit more pace to his game. He’s made some cracking breaks and runs recently.

          1. I hope youre right. Unfortunately the performances Slade has put in so far for England have not been good enough. I too thought he and Burgess were a good pair but I’m not sure how effective Teo will be, given lack of playing time and how one-dimensional his game is. He Teo isnt effective there will be a lot of pressure on Slade.
            No Manu is injured, we could well see Ford-Farrell-Slade finish the game and this didn’t work out so well the last time.

        2. You’ve done well to see any of Te’o ‘s current form as he’s only played 30mins this season hasn’t he?

          My concern is the backs cover on the bench. There is no outside back, which is fine if the 3 starters don’t get injured, but…

          Aside from ‘cover’, what is the plan for utilising Tuilagi and Ford? Can’t see Farrell going off, and Ford can only play 10, so switch to Ford, Farrell, Tuilagi? Which is an entirely different game to Farrell, Te’o, Slade.

          Perhaps that’s the plan – to change the attacking approach mid-game???

          1. Te’o’s lack of game time is exactly what I am referring to. A player with just 30 mins under his belt after a long injury lay off is in no form to be playing an international

  2. I think you’ve summed it up quite well, Pablito – could have been worse!

    The back row has a bit of balance to it, even if we are lacking big ball-carriers up front. The midfield feels better with Farrell at 10 and more of a unit at 12, even if we need to overlook the fact that Te’o has hardly played. The back 3 is decent.

    Hopefully we’ll get some clues as to the gameplan, which we haven’t had all year.

    1. Agreed.
      Re ball carriers – Hepburn carries well for Exeter and we know Sinckler can. Hopefully Itoje can replicate some of the carrying he’s been doing for Saracens. Shields really needs to justify his spot. But yeah, we are missing a couple of big ball carriers – which has been a downfall in recent games.
      Some idea as to gameplan would be nice

      1. Teo is a big risk imo. In the very brief appearance he has made for Worcester this season he was awful.

  3. Got to hope things fall into place pretty quickly, or we are going to have a very hard time. There are real deficiencies up front with so little experience and proven quality among the props and back row. Its not as if we have top level replacements on the bench. Here’s hoping some of these picks come off.
    The half backs have experience but have rarely started together. Plus, Youngs form is almost non existent. Te’o and Slade has a nice blend to it but they are starting from scratch as a partnership.
    One really good thing: that is a tasty looking back 3 that could do some serious damage if they get the right ball.
    I’m really not sure how this is going to go.

  4. Best of luck to you chaps. As I posted earlier, Saffer supporters , meaning me, have differing opinions as to who should be in the ‘Bok team. Hope our chaps have a blinder. My prediction, ‘Boks by 12

  5. Centre worries me and also the lack of cover for the back line off the bench.

    Shields I really do not rate sorry.

    1. No ,me neither Mr B. i think there are far better players sitting idly by due to EJ’s one eyed methods.
      The whole pack looks lightweight. maybe Ed is going to try and run the ‘boks ragged by playing a sevens type game?
      We will what we will see.

  6. This selection has the feeling of a sticky plaster job-Injuries permitting we are going to see at least 5 changes for the 6 Nations and the World Cup.
    For this match I would have had Sinkler on the bench(hes better there)and Wilson at 6 and Mercer at 8-Shields hasn’t done enough to warrant selection especially in the loose.
    The backs remain a problem and will continue to do so until the conundrum of who to play at 12 has been solved.Irrespective of the relative merits of Ford and Farrell at 10 the fact remains that we havnt had a top quality 12 since Will Greenwood and Mike Catt ,Though I was impressed by Rob Lowzowski on the Argentinian tour.I hope Teo goes well but he is seriously short of game time.Outside at 13 Slade needs to deliver big time though many including myself think he is only there by default-Injury to JJ and Eliot being preferred in the Back3.
    The Back 3 is fine and will be better when Watson returns,I would imagine he will be the first choice 15 unless Eliot gets a lot more game time in the position, not very likely with Willie Le Roux at Wasps

  7. Agree with the comments about Teo. Care is in much better form than Youngs and should start. Sinkler better off the bench than starting, not as good as Williams in the tight. There is a perfectly good 12 who EJ won´t look at, presumably because he is elderly, battered and tarred with the brush of failure under Lancaster. His name is Brad Barritt and he looks the most complete 12 in the Prem nearly every week especially when playing outside Farrell. I am sure he could still do the job, with Daly at 13 and Goode at full back, but it won´t happen. Shields should not even have been in the squad, never mind the team. Did we learn nothing from the Burgess farce?

    1. Really Blub? Both were brought in at short notice without having served any time or proved themselves in the Premiership. The selection of both has almost certainly put noses out in the queue waiting to fill their places (Burrell was never the same player again after being suddenly dropped for someone whose club thought he was a back row forward, while Ewells, Armand, Kvesic, Morgan and one or two others must be absolutely seething to see Shields fast tracked on the basis of last season´s form on the other side of the world). I would have thought that the parallel is that they both carry with them the possibility of major dissension in the squad (not to mention among supporters) and that just as Burgess decided to shoot off back to rugby league straight after the World Cup, Shields will be straight back to NZ if things don´t work out for him. Cynical and unnecessary selections both.

      1. Andy, understand yr frustration regrds Burgess & Shields. Agree that England made a dog’s dinner over the Burgess selection (they’d done similarly with Farrell Snr remember?) with an inexperienced rugby leaguer being played out of posi (what was it?) & catapulted straight into the England side. Incomprehensible. However, with Shields & I have an open view on him as he’s hardly had a chance here yet, he does come from a successful union side. He has a S Rugby Cup in his locker & captained the Canes side. To have attained both of these feats, he can’t have been a mug. Kiwi teams tend not to pick them. My point is that there is some differences between the Burgess elevation & that of Shields. Also, it seems that Shields has had little other than an artillery broadside from all & sundry since his pick by Jones. That’s not his fault. That’s down to EJ. What would anyone else have done in Shields’ posi? Being offered a chance to play international rugby? Turn it down because it might put team mates’ noses out of joint (it might well have), or that posters on TRB disapprove? Probably not in my view. Also I suspect that if Shields had scored that ‘try’ for England instead of it’s being spilled mm from the ground, then the artillery may have been reduced to mere rifle pot shots? Additionally, it seems unfair to accuse Shields of ‘going straight back to NZ if things don’t work out’. You can’t know his intentions & there’s reason to suppose he’ll necessarily fail @ wasps if not England – yet. Surely, no one sets out to fail? Presumably Wasps offered BS a better proposition than the AB’s would likely do, so he took it on the basis that he’d gone as far as he could in NZ. He seems a person of modesty, diligence & character from when I’ve heard him speak & from his rugby record so far. Therefore he ought to @ least be given some opportunity to show what he can (or can’t) do today. The real criticism, which may/not turn out to be warranted, surely ought to be directed @ Jones.

  8. Te’o ludicrous choice with so little game time.Manu has had game time and is on form so start him at 12.Best 13 in England is Daley so keep Brown or try Goode again at 15.Daley will create space for wingers.
    Wilson is a 6 so put him there and not Shields who is a journeyman and also lacks game time and select a proper 8 ie Morgan.
    I can see a real stuffing up front and what ball we get will be poor quality.This is a real mish mash team that has never played together before.
    Jones said he wanted 3 proven players for each position.He has fallen a long way short of this.
    My expectations are low

    1. Harlequin, agree with most of yr observations as they seem logically based. However, on what basis do you state that Shields is a ‘journeyman’? On what evidence? He’s hardly been here 5 minutes. It’s yet to be seen how he performs, as with the rest of England’s back row whom you presumably don’t regard as ‘journeymen’? See my previous comment here. I don’t have a pre-judged opinion, or an opinion @ all, on him here yet. Too early for that methinks.


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