England vs. South Africa: Eddie Jones drops Mike Brown for Boks Test
Chris Ashton expected to start on the wing at Twickenham
England vs. South Africa
- What: rugby union autumn international
- When: Saturday 3 November
- Where: Twickenham Stadium, London
- Start time: 3pm (UK time)
- TV channel: live on Sky Sports Action
England head coach Eddie Jones has made two controversial selections ahead of Saturday’s Test match against South Africa at Twickenham.
The first was to drop England’s most capped full-back, Mike Brown, who has played in 29 out of 31 Tests under Jones. The decision leaves the 33-year-old’s international future in jeopardy.
Brown has won 72 caps for his country but in recent seasons has been criticised in some quarters for his decision-making and lack of incision from the back. His omission from the squad to face the Springboks means that Elliot Daly will probably start at 15, with Chris Ashton and Jonny May on the wings.
Ashton in line for recall
The likely selection of Ashton will be a surprise given that he won the last of his 39 England caps in June 2014.
But Jones is clearly a fan of the former Saracens star despite his having played just one match for Sale Sharks this season after being banned for seven weeks in a pre-season friendly. “He has come into camp and is full of beans,” Jones said. “He has a good attitude, is a physically fit body and is desperate to play for us.”
New-look back row
Among the other ten players sent home from England’s training camp in the Algarve were Saracens flanker Michael Rhodes and Gloucester No. 8 Ben Morgan.
According to The Daily Telegraph, that “raises the prospect of Maro Itoje and Brad Shields coming into a new-look back row alongside Tom Curry”, with Charlie Ewels packing down alongside George Kruis in the second row.
Courtney Lawes was not considered for selection on Saturday owing to a back injury, but the Northampton lock is hopeful of playing some part in England’s autumn programme of Test matches.
The other players who have left the training camp are Nathan Earle, Ted Hill, Alex Lozowski, Mike Rhodes, Sam Underhill, Richard Wigglesworth, Joe Cokanasiga and Nick Schonert.
Jones will name his 23-man matchday squad on Thursday, and among the toughest selection decisions he faces are at fly-half, centre and hooker. George Food and Owen Farrell are vying for the No. 10 shirt, and whoever gets the nod will affect who starts in the midfield.
At hooker, Jones must decide whether to give Dylan Hartley his first start since March or stick with Jamie George, who appeared in the three Tests against South Africa in June, including the victory in the third Test.
“We’re going to go out there and rip into it and put our physical stamp on the game,” said George. “We’re very aware that we want to start with a bang. We’re aware of what previous results are, but don’t think of it as putting more pressure on us... it’s probably what we need as a forward pack.
“It’s going to be a big test for us but having such a big test first up is what we needed.”