Marcus Smith has been named to start at fly-half for England against Australia on Saturday, with Manu Tuilagi making a shock move to the right wing to accommodate him. Owen Farrell returns to captain the side at inside-centre as Tuilagi shifts to the wing in place of Adam Radwan.
Smith’s promotion to the starting lineup comes after an impressive cameo against Tonga last time out and gives the 22-year-old fly-half a third Test start. Eddie Jones finally gets to see Smith line up next to Farrell, who missed last weekend’s 69-3 win having been forced into isolation and was with the British & Irish Lions over the summer, when Smith started against the USA and Canada.
Jones’s decision to move Tuilagi to wing is a surprise, however. The 30-year-old impressed in a centre partnership with Henry Slade, who remains in the No 13 jersey, but the return of Farrell and Smith’s inclusion has led Jones to reposition him. Tuilagi has won just one of his 44 England caps on the wing, in a 28-27 defeat by New Zealand in 2014 under Stuart Lancaster.
Smith’s introduction means George Furbank drops out of 23 altogether, with Jones opting for a 6-2 split on the bench, naming Sam Simmonds among his replacements. Simmonds has not played for England since 2018 but is in line for his ninth Test cap, having appeared for the Lions against South Africa. The Sale pair of Raffi Quirke and Bevan Rodd are also among the replacements and set to make their debuts.
Elsewhere, Jones has largely stuck by the side who beat Tonga, with Ellis Genge, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler making up the front row, Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill continuing at lock and Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry once more named as the back-rows. Ben Youngs continues at scrum-half, with Jonny May staying on the wing and Freddie Steward again at full-back. Max Malins comes on to the bench to add versatility, alongside Quirke as one of two back replacements.
Jones said: “We know this will be a tough test for us, we’re playing against a team who have been together a while and who have beat the world champions twice. As an Australian I know how much this game means. We’ve had a really good week of preparation, we’re looking to improve our performance this week and I think this side is building well.”