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Marchant handed first England start despite exclusion from World Cup squad

The Harlequins centre’s selection raises doubts about the fitness of Jonathan Joseph and Henry Slade.

England's Joe Marchant.
England's Joe Marchant.

JOE MARCHANT WILL make his first Test start against Italy in England’s final Rugby World Cup warm-up game in Newcastle on Friday, even though he is not in the squad for the tournament itself.

England named their 31-man squad on 12 August and Harlequins centre Marchant was absent from the final list, but head coach Eddie Jones has selected the 23-year-old alongside Piers Francis in the midfield to face Italy in what the head coach has termed “a mix-and-match selection policy”.

Ruaridh McConnochie, who was the only uncapped player named in the World Cup squad, will make his debut on the wing for a team that will be captained by Owen Farrell and will once again feature Billy Vunipola.

Marchant’s previous two appearances — against Wales last month and Ireland two weeks ago — have both come from the bench.

His inclusion raises doubts about the long-term fitness of Jonathan Joseph, who pulled out of the Ireland game with muscle soreness, and Henry Slade, who has not featured in any of the World Cup warm-up games due to a knee injury.

“We are delighted to be playing against Italy, one of our traditional Six Nations rivals and the game for us is another important step to develop our game fitness and game strategy,” Jones said in quotes published on England’s website.

“We have gone with a mix-and-match selection policy to develop our adaptability and the team’s ability to cope with any situation.”

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England (v Italy)

15. Anthony Watson
14. Ruaridh McConnochie
13. Joe Marchant
12. Piers Francis
11. Jonny May
10. Owen Farrell
9. Ben Youngs

1. Joe Marler
2. Jamie George
3. Dan Cole
4. Joe Launchbury
5. Courtney Lawes
6. Tom Curry
7. Mark Wilson
8. Billy Vunipola


16. Luke Cowan-Dickie
17. Ellis Genge
18. Kyle Sinckler
19. Charlie Ewels
20 Matt Kvesic
21. Willi Heinz
22. George Ford
23. Joe Cokanasiga

Murray Kinsella joins Gavan Casey, Ryan Bailey and Sean Farrell with their immediate reaction to Ireland’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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