LONDON (Reuters) - Hooker Jamie George will finally make his first start for England after 19 appearances off the bench as coach Eddie Jones on Thursday named a side featuring nine changes to play Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.
George was first-choice hooker for the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand this year but for the last two years has had to sit behind Dylan Hartley for England.
The captain is on the bench this week, while several other key players have been left out of the squad.
Jones was always expected to experiment for Saturday’s match, which should be a straightforward one against a Samoa team struggling for any sort of form.
Scrumhalf Danny Care, who set up two tries and scored a third in a superb late cameo in last week’s record win over Australia, gets a rare start, while Alex Lozowski and Henry Slade will form an exciting new centre partnership.
Sam Simmonds will make his first start at number 8 in the absence of the injured Nathan Hughes, with Charlie Ewels in the second row and Mike Brown returning at fullback.
With Owen Farrell again rested, flyhalf George Ford and Chris Robshaw, switched to openside flanker, have been named co-captains as England expect to complete a hat-trick of wins from their November tests.
“This week it is an opportunity for some squad members who haven’t been playing to put their best foot forward,” Jones said.
“We want to follow up last week’s performance against Australia and play better again this week but we are expecting Samoa to be immensely physical and committed.”
There is never any doubt about that, but the islanders have shown precious little else over the last few years during a dire run.
Last week they were beaten by Romania to extend their losing streak to eight matches, while they have lost all seven of their previous games against England, the most recent being a 28-9 defeat three years ago.
World Rugby officials have said claims made earlier this month that the Samoan Rugby Union was bankrupt were inaccurate but the financial gulf between the visitors and England will be there for all to see on Saturday.
The Rugby Football Union will make about 10 million pounds all-in from the fixture and is giving the Samoans 75,000 pounds as a goodwill gesture.
Plans for the England players to donate part of their individual 23,000 pounds match fee to their rivals, who will get about 600 pounds each, were shelved over integrity concerns.
England team to face Samoa on Saturday (1500GMT)
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins 63 caps), 14 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers 28 caps), 13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs 9 caps), 12 Alex Lozowski (Saracens 3 caps), 11 Elliot Daly (Wasps 15 caps), 10 George Ford (Leicester Tigers 39 caps) co-captain, 9 Danny Care (Harlequins 75 caps); 1 Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers 4 caps), 2 Jamie George (Saracens 19 caps), 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers 76 caps), 4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps 46 caps), 5 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby 5 caps), 6 Maro Itoje (Saracens 13 caps), 7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins 58 caps) co-captain, 8 Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs 2 caps).
16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints 88 caps), 17 Joe Marler (Harlequins 52 caps), 18 Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs 4 caps), 19 Nick Isiekwe (Saracens 1 cap), 20 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints 60 caps), 21 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers 72 caps), 22 Piers Francis (Northampton Saints 2 caps), 23 Semesa Rokoduguni (Bath Rugby 3 caps).
Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Ken Ferris