Monday 23 October 2017

England name inexperienced back row for Six Nations clash with Wales

Jack Clifford and Courtney Lawes of England look on during the England training session at Pennyhill Park
Jack Clifford and Courtney Lawes of England look on during the England training session at Pennyhill Park

Duncan Bech

England will enter a hostile Principality Stadium with a rookie back row after naming Jack Clifford in place of Tom Wood for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales.

Clifford has recovered from a chest injury to make his first international appearance since last summer's tour to Australia and is chosen ahead of the vastly more experienced Wood, who is demoted to the bench.

In the only other change to the starting XV that dispatched France 19-16 last Saturday, Jack Nowell is picked on the right wing in a move that sees Jonny May also relegated to a spot among the replacements.

The biggest talking point is in the back row, however, with England facing a potentially all-British and Irish Lions Welsh trio with Clifford, Maro Itoje and Nathan Hughes.

Wood, who has recovered from a shoulder injury, has 46 caps while Clifford, Itoje and Hughes have only four back-row starts between them.

"Jack Clifford also deserves his starting role. He is a hard-working, young player," head coach Eddie Jones said.

"He has got a good record against Wales, he had a superb game against them in May, he knows what he is going to expect from Wales and we're looking forward to him making an impact to our back-row play.

"Tom Wood will also play his part later in the game off the bench as a finisher."

England team: M Brown (Harlequins); J Nowell (Exeter), J Joseph (Bath), O Farrell (Saracens), E Daly (Wasps); G Ford (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton, capt), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), M Itoje (Saracens), J Clifford (Harlequins), N Hughes (Wasps).

Replacements: J George (Saracens), M Mullan (Wasps), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Wood (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), B Te'o (Worcester), J May (Gloucester).

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