November 8, 2018 / 12:28 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-Rugby-Ashton, Underhill and Moon start for England

* Winger Ashton gets first start since 2014 against All Blacks

* Underhill in for Curry at blindside

* Moon beefs up front row

* (Adds detail, quotes)

By Mitch Phillips

BAGSHOT, England, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Winger Chris Ashton will make his first England start for four years against New Zealand on Saturday as coach Eddie Jones made three changes to the side who beat South Africa last week.

Ashton, who came on as a replacement against the Springboks but last started in the June, 2014 defeat by the All Blacks in Hamilton, comes in on the right wing for Jack Nowell, who drops to the bench at Twickenham.

Sam Underhill starts at openside flanker in place of the injured Tom Curry while Ben Moon, who made his debut as a replacement last week, starts at loosehead prop ahead of his Exeter team mate Alec Hepburn.

Lock Courtney Lawes, who missed last Saturday’s 12-11 win with a back injury, was named among the replacements but there was no place for Manu Tuilagi, who was originally on the bench last week but withdrew with a groin strain.

Back-rower Zach Mercer also missed out after making his first appearance against South Africa as a replacement.

“The expectation for Saturday is no different to any other test match,” Jones said. “We want to be at our best, better than we were in the previous match and we want to play with pride and passion which ignites the fan.”

The international career of 31-year-old Ashton, who scored a try in England’s last win over New Zealand in 2012, looked to be over when he moved from Saracens to Toulon in 2017. He returned to play for Sale this season but was hit with a seven-week ban for a dangerous tackle in a pre-season game.

However, Jones has been impressed with what he has seen in camp and Ashton was lively during his 15-minute second-half appearance against the Springboks.


Underhill took his chance after making his debut in Argentina in 2017 when England were without their Lions contingent. He started both games at openside, delivering a collection of his famed chop tackles.

Underhill was also impressive in the Twickenham victory over Australia later that year but suffered a concussion, his second of the season, which affected him for months.

He came off the bench for England twice during the Six Nations – making the tackle of the tournament to prevent what looked a certain try for Wales’s Scott Williams, but a ruptured tendon in his foot in March ended his season and kept him out of the South Africa tour.

Curry took full advantage to secure the number seven shirt but after he was ruled out of the November internationals with an ankle injury sustained in Saturday’s 12-11 win over South Africa, Underhill was put straight into the starting lineup for the biggest test of all.

“He is an excellent player, a really tough defender who hits hard and he is in great physical shape,” England forwards coach Steve Borthwick said.

Steve Hansen named the New Zealand team earlier on Thursday, with prop Karl Tu’inukuafe in for Joe Moody, who has been ruled out of the rest of the tour with an eye injury, and Aaron Smith back as starting scrumhalf.

England have beaten New Zealand only once in their last 15 meetings dating back to before the 2003 World Cup and their overall record is seven wins and a draw in 40 matches.

England team to play New Zealand:

15 Elliot Daly (Wasps, 22 caps)

14 Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks, 40 caps)

13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 14 caps)

12 Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 14 caps)

11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 38 caps)

10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 62 caps) co-captain

9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 78 caps)

1 Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs, 1 cap)

2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 94 caps) co-captain

3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 14 caps)

4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 23 caps)

5 George Kruis (Saracens, 26 caps)

6 Brad Shields (Wasps, 3 caps)

7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 6 caps)

8 Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 5 caps)


16 Jamie George (Saracens, 29 caps)

17 Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps)

18 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 12 caps)

19 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 7 caps)

20 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 65 caps)

21 Danny Care (Harlequins, 82 caps)

22 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 48 caps)

23 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 27 caps) (Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ed Osmond)

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