SAN JUAN, Argentina, June 8 (Reuters) - England flanker Tom Curry is one of four new caps coach Eddie Jones has named to face Argentina on Saturday and is set to become their youngest test debutant since Jonny Wilkinson.
England’s World Cup-winning flyhalf Wilkinson was 18 years 314 days old when he played against Ireland in the 1998 Six Nations, a couple of months before Curry was born.
“My principle has always been that if a player is good enough, you play him whether he is old or young,” said Jones after naming his team for the first of a two-test series.
“Some players at 18 are much more mature than players at 28. There were no qualms at all about throwing him in.”
The Sale flanker, whose twin brother Ben is also on tour, will line up with Harry Williams, Mark Wilson and Alex Lozowski, England’s other new caps, on Saturday.
On the bench there are seven more players looking to open their accounts with England. Matt Mullan, who has 15 caps, is the only replacement with any international experience.
Mullan will be back-up to Ellis Genge, who holds the one cap England’s props and flankers have between them. Three other players in England’s starting lineup, Henry Slade, Nathan Hughes and Charlie Ewels, have fewer than 10 caps.
At the other end of the scale, Dylan Hartley make his 85th England appearance, accounting for nearly a quarter of the starting XV’s 345 caps, as he leads the team at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario in this western provincial city.
Hartley moves past Martin Johnson into third place on England’s all-time list of caps winners, alongside Lawrence Dallaglio and Rory Underwood. Having missed 60 weeks over the years through suspension, it is some achievement.
His predecessor as captain, Chris Robshaw, whose experience would have been invaluable in front of a 25,000 sellout in the shadow of the Andes, has just failed to shake off the last effects of the ankle injury he picked up in training.
“Chris is almost back to full training,” said Jones. “We just felt he was a bit tired. Certainly, he should be available for the second test (in Santa Fe on June 17).”
Wilson will be his replacement on the blindside flank, the first Newcastle player to feature for England since Wilkinson in 2008, earning Jones’s praise for his workrate and physicality.
Denny Solomona, Sale’s high-profile signing from rugby league, will likely make his debut, having recovered from the foot injury that looked as if it might put him out of the tour.
Team: 15-Mike Brown, 14-Marland Yarde, 13-Henry Slade, 12-Alex Lozowski, 11-Jonny May, 10-George Ford, 9-Danny Care, 8-Nathan Hughes, 7-Tom Curry, 6-Mark Wilson, 5-Charlie Ewels, 4-Joe Launchbury, 3-Harry Williams, 2-Dylan Hartley (captain), 1-Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16-Jack Singleton, 17-Matt Mullan, 18-Will Collier, 19-Nick Isiekwe, 20-Don Armand, 21-Jack Maunder, 22-Piers Francis, 23-Denny Solomona (Editing by Rex Gowar)