Eddie Jones has announced Bath wing Joe Cokanasiga will start for England this weekend against Italy. Cokanasiga, who scored in the wins against Japan and Australia, came on as a replacement against Wales is given the opportunity to play from the start due to a shoulder injury picked up by Jack Nowell. It will be an important afternoon for Cokanasiga who will be trying to book himself a seat on the plane to Japan by performing well.
Elsewhere in the backline Manu Tuilagi moves to outside centre to accommodate the return Ben Te’o at twelve. The inclusion of three big men in the backline does suggest that England may play more of a direct running game than we have seen from them in the championship so far. Henry Slade may feel slightly disappointed to only make the bench.
In the pack, Ellis Genge gets the nod at loose head replacing Ben Moon who takes a place on the bench. Joe Launchbury gets a first start of the campaign in the engine room and will have a point to prove to the selectors having not made the match day squad at the beginning of the campaign. Brad Shields will take the place of Mark Wilson at six. His inclusion will also be one to keep an eye on as the man from New Zealand makes his first Six Nations start also.
The match against Italy will hopefully provide the opportunity to see what England can do with more of the ball in hand. The performance of both Cokanasiga and Shields will be closely monitored by Eddie Jones who will be seeking the final pieces of his World Cup jigsaw. Nothing less than a bonus point win will be expected to keep the pressure on Wales going into the final weekend.
Written by Stefan Hamilton