England v South Africa: Tommy Freeman comes in on the wing as hosts make changes

Tommy Freeman
Freeman was in the starting line-up for both of England’s victories over Australia in the summer
Venue: Twickenham Stadium Date: Saturday, 26 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app, updates on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds

Northampton’s Tommy Freeman takes Jack Nowell’s place on the wing in one of four changes for England’s match against South Africa on Saturday.

Freeman, who impressed on the summer tour of Australia, only recently made his club comeback from a foot injury.

Elsewhere Ellis Genge and Luke Cowan-Dickie have dropped to the bench with Mako Vunipola and hooker Jamie George coming into the starting line-up.

Alex Coles replaces Sam Simmonds at flanker to add a third line-out jumper.

Jack van Poortvliet continues at scrum-half ahead of Leicester team-mate Ben Youngs.

“We’re going out there to light the crowd up,” said head coach Eddie Jones.

“The support at Twickenham was outstanding last week and we want to work hard on the pitch to make sure we have another atmosphere like that again on Saturday.”

The changes seem designed to counter some of the vulnerabilities New Zealand exposed for much of the match last weekend, before England stormed back to claim a 25-25 draw in the final 10 minutes.

Nowell, who failed to make any ground with ball in hand, was targeted with cross-field kicks as he lined up against the taller Caleb Clarke.

Freeman, who stands 6ft 2in, is equally at home at full-back as on the wing.

England’s pack came under heavy pressure at the scrum with Genge struggling to contain opposite number Tyrel Lomax.

Jones’ selection means the same front row – Vunipola, George and tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler – that started the 2019 Rugby World Cup final against South Africa will take to the field at Twickenham.

Jones subsequently admittedexternal-link that he should have opted for the scrummaging strength of Joe Marler ahead of Vunipola for that 32-12 defeat in Yokohama.

Coles’ presence in the back row increases England’s line-out options after Simmonds started alongside Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola against the All Blacks.

South Africa, who lost narrowly to Ireland and France before last weekend’s rout of Italy, are without several key players.

With the match taking place outside of World Rugby’s window for international action, some players based outside South Africa, including Leicester’s Jasper Wiese and Harlequins’ Andre Esterhuizen, have had to fulfil obligations to their clubs.

However a strong line-up still includes some of the stars of Japan 2019 such as Eben Etzebeth, Makazole Mapimpi and Faf De Klerk.

England: Steward; Freeman, Tuilagi, Farrell (capt), May; Smith, Van Poortvliet; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Coles, Curry, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Genge, Stuart, Ribbans, Simmonds, Youngs, Slade, Nowell.

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