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Eddie Jones has named his strongest side available for England's opening Rugby Union World Cup match against Tonga on Sunday.

The head coach has reverted almost entirely to the England XV that inflicted a record defeat against Ireland at Twickenham last month. Only Joe Cokanasiga and George Kruis are missing.

It means captain Owen Farrell, George Ford and Manu Tuilagi will play together in the midfield. Lawes and Itoje make up the second row in a change from the Ireland game.

Focus

Announcing the starting England XV, Jones said: “The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga.  We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well, our sleep patterns are good and the physical conditioning of the players is outstanding. We have been able to add a bit more on our team togetherness and cohesion too.

“Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion. They are a side if they get a bit of momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu. They have a great World Cup record and we will need to be at our best on Sunday.

“I don’t think there is anyone who isn’t excited about getting out there on Sunday and there is a good feeling around the place. We are delighted to be up here in Sapporo and to play at the stadium will be a unique experience for us and something the team is looking forward to.”

 

ENGLAND STARTING XV

15 Elliot Daly (Saracens, 33 caps)

14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 36 caps)

13 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 35 caps)

12 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 73 caps) C

11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 47 caps)

10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 59 caps)

9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 89 caps)

1 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 62 caps)

2 Jamie George (Saracens, 40 caps)

3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 25 caps)

4 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 75 caps)

5 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 29 caps)

6 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 13 caps)

7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)

8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 45 caps)

Finishers

16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 15 caps)

17 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 12 caps )

18 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 89 caps)

19 George Kruis (Saracens, 35 caps)

20 Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)

21 Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 4 caps)

22 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps)

23 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 42 caps)

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2019 Rugby World Cup Eddie Jones England XV RWC Tonga

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