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Rugby: Five Saracens in England’s starting XV to face South Africa

PUBLISHED: 11:39 14 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:39 14 June 2018

England's Billy Vunipola chats with coach Eddie Jones (pic Adam Davy/PA)

England's Billy Vunipola chats with coach Eddie Jones (pic Adam Davy/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

England head coach Eddie Jones has named five Saracens players in his starting XV to play South Africa in the second Test in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

There are two changes to the line-up that lost last weekend, with Joe Launchbury (Wasps) coming in for Saracens’ youngster Nick Isiekwe, while Brad Shields (Hurricanes/Wasps) makes his first England start at blindside flanker in place of Chris Robshaw.

Danny Cipriani (Wasps) is named as a finisher replacing Piers Francis (Northampton Saints) on the bench, with his last cap for England coming against France ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2015.

Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons) is also included as a finisher having last played for England on the Argentina tour last season.

Jones said: “We have come here to win the series against South Africa and the squad is ready to go out and beat them this weekend. We have had a very good preparation this week and the intensity and executions in those sessions are going to put us in a good position for Saturday.

“The way the team have come together has been superb. Owen Farrell, with a number of the senior players, has really moulded the squad together. They are working hard to improve their game to make sure we win.”

Commenting on the change in the back row, Jones added: “Based on South Africa’s likely selection of an extra lineout jumper we have decided to start with Brad Shields, which improves our lineout. It is tough on Chris Robshaw as he has been an outstanding player for us but I know he will bounce back.

“Danny Cipriani will come onto the bench, as we are looking for something a little bit different to finish the game, which he can bring. He’s been training well and doing everything that has been asked of him.”

On facing South Africa in Bloemfontein, Jones added: “When you have a win like South Africa did on Saturday you come into the game with a bit of confidence so we have to make sure we dent the Springboks’ confidence early.

“Bloemfontein is a very fast ground at altitude. It has an average of 60 points per Test match so we are anticipating an ebb-and-flow type game like we had in Johannesburg.”

England lost the first match of the three-Test series against South Africa 42-39 in Johannesburg. Their final match is in Cape Town (June 23). All matches kick off at 1705 local time (1605 BST).

England: 15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 19 caps); 14 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 35 caps); 13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 11 caps); 12 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 59 caps); 11 Mike Brown (Harlequins, 70 caps); 10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 46 caps); 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 75 caps); 1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 50 caps); 2 Jamie George (Saracens, 26 caps); 3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 11 caps); 4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 52 caps); 5 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 20 caps); 6 Brad Shields (Hurricanes/ Wasps, 1 cap); 7 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 2 cap); 8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 35 caps).

Finishers; 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 6 caps); 17 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 57 caps); 18 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps); 19 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps); 20 Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 15 caps); 21 Ben Spencer (Saracens, 1 cap); 22 Danny Cipriani (Wasps, 14 caps); 23 Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks, 3 caps).

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