Manu Tuilagi will finally make his first appearance of the autumn when England face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday after being picked on the bench alongside Dylan Hartley.
Tuilagi missed the opening three Quilter Internationals because of a groin strain and was rated “highly unlikely” by Eddie Jones to play against the Wallabies, but is poised to end his two-year absence as a second-half replacement.
England have been cautious over his fitness due to the run of serious injuries that have ravaged his career and were forced to withdraw him from the bench against South Africa due to the latest setback suffered in training.
BREAKING | Your England squad, co-captained by @owen_faz and @DylanHartley, to face the @qantaswallabies on Saturday in the #QuilterInternationals 🌹— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) November 22, 2018
Preview ➡ https://t.co/OdT1Re83nD#ENGvAUS #CarryThemHome pic.twitter.com/SscS1D0wtJ
In a surprise selection, Leicester’s powerhouse centre is joined among the replacements by England co-captain Hartley, who sees Jamie George win the race to start at hooker.
Whenever England have played top opposition under Jones, Hartley has been first choice in the position – status he has held since 2014 – but is now confined to a supporting role.
The 32-year-old started the Tests against South Africa and New Zealand earlier this month, but deputised for Japan’s visit to Twickenham and was expected to be restored to the starting XV for the climax to the autumn.
Jack Nowell was due to be named on the right wing only to be ruled out by what is thought to be a hamstring injury, giving Joe Cokanasiga the chance to win his second cap.
Ben Te’o returns at inside centre as one of nine changes made to the side that laboured to a 35-15 victory over Japan.
The first choice half-back pairing of Owen Farrell and Ben Youngs are reunited, while Jonny May is back on the left wing as England target a sixth successive victory over Australia.
Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje form the second row partnership, Brad Shields features at blindside flanker and Sam Underhill will look to pick up where he left off against New Zealand in the number seven jersey.
“We’ve picked our best 23 for the Australia game. We know they have a unique style of attack so our ability to defend that is going to be important,” Jones said.
“We are continually working on our strengths which is our set piece and our defence and they are areas that are progressing nicely.
"We're developing a unique style of rugby, which is English, and the players are proud to play that way."— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) November 22, 2018
Eddie looks ahead to Saturday's #ENGvAUS clash at Twickenham: https://t.co/84xctVnXwZ #WearTheRose 🌹 pic.twitter.com/9VFYFkqErR
“I’m really happy with the direction we’re going in terms of the way we play the game.
“We are developing a unique style of rugby, which is English and the players are proud to play that way.
“Australia we know are a traditional rival and we enjoy the occasion of playing them at Twickenham. The spirit of the fans has been outstanding.”