Willi Heinz and Ruaridh McConnochie will get their chance to stake a claim for a World Cup spot when they make their England debuts against Wales on Sunday. The duo were surprise inclusions in the Red Rose’s training squad, England sevens star McConnochie having only made the switch to the 15-a-side game last summer when joining Bath.
New Zealand-born scrum-half Heinz, who caught the eye at Gloucester last season, has also been handed the vice-captaincy for a game that takes place just 24 hours before head coach Eddie Jones names his final 31-man World Cup squad. Heinz will partner George Ford in the half-backs, while McConnochie will line-up in a back-three featuring Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson, the latter making his first England appearance since March 2018 due to a serious Achilles injury.
Piers Francis is handed a fourth cap at centre, while Jones has named three uncapped players – Jack Singleton, Lewis Ludlam and Joe Marchant – amongst the replacements. Meanwhile, Wales have named a strong starting XV, led by Alun Wyn Jones, who will become the country’s most-capped player when he makes his 135th appearance. The Six Nations champions have named Gareth Davies and Gareth Anscombe at half-back, while Aaron Wainwright gets his chance in the back-row with Taulupe Faletau having been ruled out of the World Cup with a shoulder injury.
England: Elliot Daly, Ruaridh McConnochie, Henry Slade, Piers Francis, Anthony Watson, George Ford (c), Willi Heinz; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Jack Singleton, Joe Marler, Harry Williams, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Ben Youngs, Joe Marchant, Joe Cokanasiga. Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies, Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Shingler, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.