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Five key questions answered after Eddie Jones announces team to play South Africa

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Owen Farrell has been named at fly-half for England’s autumn series opener against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Saracens playmaker starts in the position for only the third time in the Eddie Jones era, forcing George Ford to settle for a place among the replacements.

Ben Te’o has been picked at inside centre despite being limited to only 28 minutes of rugby since May due to thigh and calf injuries.

Here, Press Association Sport answers some of the questions arising from England’s latest squad announcement.

Why was Farrell picked instead of Ford at fly-half?

Farrell has been switched from inside centre to stand-off in a positional shuffle which sees Ford drop to the bench and Te’o replace Farrell in the centre.

Jones believes the Red Rose attack is now more organised than it was on the South Africa tour, where England lost two of their three Tests. Farrell is vastly experienced and his switch to fly-half allows the inclusion of Te’o, who will offer more of a physical presence against the Springboks than Ford.

Who is the England captain?

Or captains, as is the case. Farrell and hooker Dylan Hartley have been named co-captains for England, with the former marshalling the backline and the Northampton forward leading an inexperienced pack.

England v Scotland - RBS Six Nations

Hartley, who will win his 94th cap against South Africa on Saturday, has more caps than the rest of the pack put together and his impact will be key, as will that of Farrell in his new position.

How much of a risk is the selection of Te’o at centre?

Jones’ inclusion of Te’o can be seen as something of a gamble. The Worcester centre has only had very limited game time this season – less than half-an-hour – so his selection could be a huge blunder for Jones if his fitness is undercooked.

However, at his best, the 31-year-old former rugby league player is dangerous in attack and his imposing frame and strength will help England front up to the mammoth Boks side.

Manu Tuilagi is picked on the bench and could make an explosive appearance should the Te’o experiment turn sour.

England Media Access

How is Jones dealing with the injury crisis at number eight?

Billy Vunipola is ruled out with a broken arm and his back-up Nathan Hughes will miss three of England’s four autumn internationals due to suspension after being banned for six weeks.

The Wasps star was found guilty of punching Gloucester’s Lewis Ludlow then had an extra two weeks added to his ban after an ill-timed tweet about his punishment. It means Jones has turned to Newcastle number eight Mark Wilson after Ben Morgan was dropped from the squad with his hopes of a recall dashed.

Who are the new boys?

Exeter prop Ben Moon and Bath back-row forward Zach Mercer are the two uncapped players in the line-up and both start the match on the replacements’ bench.

The pack does, however, have something of a green tinge to it as in another roll of the dice, England’s starting back row against the Springboks has just 10 caps between them. Number eight Wilson and openside flanker Tom Curry have four caps apiece while on the blindside, Brad Shields has just two.

Topics:
England Rugby
South Africa Rugby
Rugby Union
Mark Wilson
Zach Mercer
Ben Moon
Dylan Hartley
Owen Farrell

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