Chris Ashton (C) is back in the England starting line-up for the first time since 2014
London (AFP) - Chris Ashton will make his first England start for four years in one of three changes made by coach Eddie Jones for Saturday’s match against the All Blacks at Twickenham.
Ashton, who ended a lengthy England exile when coming off the bench in last week’s 12-11 win at home to South Africa, is on the right wing in place of Jack Nowell.
The 31-year-old Ashton, now with Sale, has amassed 40 caps in an international career interrupted by suspension and a season-long spell with French giants Toulon.
Ashton has scored 19 tries for England including one in their last victory over the All Blacks in 2012.
“It’s more of an order change,” Jones told reporters at England’s Bagshot training base on Thursday.
“Jack played exceptionally well for us last week but when you’re playing against New Zealand the 80 minutes are important.
“Jack has got an incredible work rate so we feel he’ll be enormously valuable for us in the last 20 minutes.
“Chris can sniff a try from anywhere. To beat New Zealand you have got to score tries,” the Australian added.
“He’s in good form and has looked sharp, so we’ve given him the nod to start.”
Sam Underhill comes in at openside flanker after an ankle injury ruled out Tom Curry.
“We looked at a number of possibilities but we wanted a like for like player and Underhill is a like for like player,” explained Jones.
“Curry is a very good player. Sam has had a few injury issues but this is a great opportunity for him.
“He’s strong at the breakdown, good chop tackler and will certainly fill the role that Tom did so well in last week.”
- Tuilagi must wait -
But there was no place in the matchday 23 for Manu Tuilagi, who had arguably his best England game against the All Blacks six years ago, despite the centre’s recovery from the groin strain that ruled him out against the Springboks.
“Manu is just not quite right. He’s nearly there and we feel like he’ll be of enormous value to us in the future,” said Jones.
“Rather than take any risks with him we’re being quite conservative in his management.
“He’s at 99.9999 percent but he’s just not quite right so we’re going to see if we get him 100 percent right.”
Jones made one other change when announcing his starting XV on Thursday, with Ben Moon named at loosehead prop for what will be England’s first match against world champions New Zealand in four years.
Courtney Lawes returned to the bench following a lower back problem, with Zach Mercer dropping out of the squad.
Fly-half Owen Farrell again co-captains the team alongside New Zealand-born hooker Dylan Hartley and needs only one more point to reach 700 for England.
“The expectation for Saturday is no different to any other Test match,” said Jones.
“We want to be at our best, better than we were in the previous Test match and we want to play with pride and passion which ignites the fan,” added the former Australia and Japan coach.
England have won just seven out of 40 Tests against New Zealand and Jones said: “We’ve got the greatest admiration for them but we have an opportunity to get stuck in on Saturday and that’s what we’ll do.”
Elliot Daly; Chris Ashton, Henry Slade, Ben Te’o, Jonny May; Owen Farrell (co-capt), Ben Youngs; Mark Wilson, Sam Underhill, Brad Shiels; George Kruis, Maro Itoje; Kyle Sinckler, Dylan Hartley (co-capt), Ben Moon
Replacements: Jamie George, Alec Hepburn, Harry Williams, Charlie Ewels, Courtney Lawes, Danny Care, George Ford, Jack Nowell