KOBE, Japan (Reuters) - England coach Eddie Jones has opted to rest Manu Tuilagi and a string of first-choice players for Thursday’s World Cup match against the United States in 10 changes to the lineup that beat Tonga 35-3 in their Pool C opener in Sapporo.
Skipper Owen Farrell will also be on the bench with only fullback Elliot Daly, flyhalf George Ford, number eight Billy Vunipola, flanker Tom Curry and prop Joe Marler retaining their places for the game at Kobe Misaki Stadium.
Joe Cokanasiga, who has been struggling with a knee injury, and fellow winger Ruaridh McConnochie will make their World Cup debuts and look to stretch the Americans, with Jones hoping his side takes better care of the ball than they did against Tonga, when a series of handling errors and penalties sapped their momentum.
Tuilagi, who scored two tries against Tonga in a man-of-the-match performance, is getting back to his best after a string of injuries curtailed his England appearances over the last few years.
Dan Cole will join Luke Cowan-Dickie and Marler in the front row to earn his 91st cap, tying Jonny Wilkinson for third on the men’s all-time appearances list.
Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes have been replaced by Joe Launchbury and George Kruis in an all-new second row, while Willi Heinz gets the nod at scrum half, with new pairing Piers Francis and Jonathan Joseph in the centres.
“Our aim is to be a little bit tidier, particularly in our attack, we’d like to execute a little bit better,” Jones told a media conference on Tuesday. “There was a lot of effort in our game on Sunday but not the execution.”
Vunipola appeared in all of England’s warm-up games and, despite being subjected to some fierce Tongan tackling, has been chosen by Jones to start against the United States.
“There’s a risk him going out and eating Kobe beef tonight. We feel like it’s much better he plays rugby than goes out and eats beef,” said Jones.
“He loves playing rugby, the best way to keep him fit is to play him and he’s an influential player in our team.”
In announcing the squad for Tuesday’s game, Jones had said it was important to manage players workloads.
“It is our best 23 and we have looked at some players that would benefit not playing in this game so have kept them out of the 23,” he said in a statement.
“But it is a great opportunity for another set of players to do the team proud.”
With the United States playing their first game of the tournament while England have a four-day turnaround, Jones was expecting a physical test.
“USA are a tough, physical team who are extremely well coached by Gary Gold,” he added. “They have prepared two weeks with the marines for this game so they will be fit, tough and be playing for the pride of their country.”
England: 15-Elliot Daly, 14-Ruaridh McConnochie, 13-Jonathan Joseph, 12-Piers Francis, 11-Joe Cokanasiga, 10-George Ford, 9-Willi Heinz, 8-Billy Vunipola, 7-Lewis Ludlam, 6-Tom Curry, 5- George Kruis, 4-Joe Launchbury, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1-Joe Marler
Replacements: 16-Jack Singleton, 17-Ellis Genge, 18-Kyle Sinckler, 19-Courtney Lawes, 20-Mark Wilson, 21-Ben Youngs, 22-Owen Farrell, 23-Anthony Watson.
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Tony Lawrence