Danny Cipriani has been named among the replacements for England clash with the Barbarians on Sunday, with Eddie Jones giving Elliot Daly a first start at full-back after swapping him with Mike Brown, who starts on the wing.
The unusual selection sees Daly moved away from his normal role on the left wing, while Gloucester’s Henry Trinder starts at outside centre in a pairing with Northampton Saints back Piers Francis,
George Ford keeps Cipriani waiting for his England return as he joins Leicester colleague Ben Youngs in the half-back pairing, with the latter returning for the first time since injuring his knee in the Six Nations opener against Italy in February.
Three Harlequins players help form the pack as props Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler as well as Chris Robshaw start, with Worcester hooker Jack Singleton completing the front-row, while the experienced Joe Launchbury is joined by uncapped Bath lock Elliott Stooke in the engine room.
With Robshaw named at six, Sale’s Tom Curry starts at openside flanker and Zach Mercer is given the No 8 shirt, with Billy Vunipola absent with Saracens for the Premiership final and Nathan Hughes given the week off as he continues his return from a knee injury.
Jones is set to hand Cipriani his first England appearance since the 2015 Rugby World Cup warm-ups, although as the match is a non-test encounter he will not add to his 14 international caps this weekend if he comes on. Having been left out of England squads ever since Jones took the reins at the end of 2015, Cipriani has forced his way into the squad with his Premiership form for Wasps, and the fly-half will join Gloucester this summer instead of a lucrative move abroad to keep his international career alive.
He is joined on the bench by Wasps teammate Dan Robson, while uncapped players George McGuigan, Nick Schonert and Josh Beaumont are included alongside Ellis Genge, Mark Wilson and Denny Solomona.
England have won the last two encounters at Twickenham, with last year’s scoreline of 28-14 comprehensively outdone by the 2015 result of 73-12, a record win for England over the Barbarians in which Cipriani starred in before being arrested that night for drink-driving.
“This is a good young squad and their work ethic has been outstanding over the last two weeks. Their application to learn has been very good but they are very young at Test rugby level so this week’s match against the Barbarians is a fantastic opportunity for them to step up,” said Jones.
“It is a great opportunity for them to show they deserve to wear the English rose, to show they can be in contention for the World Cup and a great opportunity for them to put us on the front foot ahead of the South Africa tour.
“You never know what to expect from the Barbarians team. We know they will be well coached by Pat Lam, we know they have got good individual players and some outstanding individual players, so we need to be up for the unexpected.
Jones also confirmed that in the absence of regular captain Dylan Hartley – through concussion – and tour captain Owen Farrell who remains with Saracens, Ford and Robshaw will once again share captaincy duties.
“As last year Chris Robshaw and George Ford will co-captain the side. Their combined experience and expertise gives us the best captaincy level for the game,” Jones added.
“We can’t wait to get back to Twickenham and get on the front foot, please the fans and play some good rugby.”
Sunday’s encounter will be the 17th time that England have met the invitational side in a match that is largely seen as a warm-up match ahead of the summer tour, although Jones has stressed that this year’s event takes on more importance due to the three straight losses in the Six Nations earlier this year.
That’s why the Australian is looking to treat the exhibition as a “curtain-raiser” for this summer’s tour of South Africa, where England have never clinched a series victory.
England team to face Barbarians
Elliot Daly; Jonny May, Henry Trinder, Piers Francis, Mike Brown; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jack Singleton, Kyle Sinckler; Elliott Stooke, Joe Launchbury; Chris Robshaw, Tom Curry, Zach Mercer.
Replacements: George McGuigan, Ellis Genge, Nick Schonert, Josh Beaumont, Mark Wilson, Dan Robson, Danny Cipriani, Denny Solomona.
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