Wales v England: Ruaridh McConnochie, Maro Itoje & Courtney Lawes start

Ruaridh McConnochie

McConnochie, right, was part of the England team that lost in the final of the Rugby World Cup Sevens last year
World Cup warm-up: Wales v England
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 17 August Kick-off: 14:15 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Rugby World Cup-bound wing Ruaridh McConnochie will win his first England cap in Saturday’s tournament warm-up match against Wales in Cardiff.

The 27-year-old, who converted from sevens last summer, is one of three changes to the starting XV that won against the same opposition on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Maro Itoje comes into the second row, while Courtney Lawes is at blindside flanker.

Anthony Watson, Charlie Ewels and the injured Tom Curry are left out.

Fly-half Owen Farrell is named on a strong bench, as George Ford captains from the start. Front-row options Jamie George, Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler are also among the replacements.

“Our selection strategy for our second game is similar to the first, so a bit of a mix-and-match approach. We are looking at different combinations and have a particular strategy for this game,” England coach Eddie Jones said.

“The squad has been progressing well this week and I think there is a realisation among the squad now that the hard work really starts, nothing has been achieved.”

From sixth tier to two World Cups in two years

McConnochie has scored four tries in 15 appearances for Bath this season

McConnochie won Olympic silver in sevens at Rio 2016, was part of the England side who came second in last year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens, and was named as his country’s men’s sevens player before making his return to the 15-a-side last summer.

The 27-year-old, who played for Kent side Cranbrook in the sixth tier of English club rugby as a teenager, has adapted fast and caught Jones’ eye in his Bath side’s 29-10 defeat by Exeter in March.

“It was pretty last-minute, and it did take me by surprise,” he told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast of his call-up to Jones’ training squad in June.

“I just wanted to go into each week and live it as a bonus, because it’s incredible.”

Four-way rankings fight in the offing

After Wales missed the chance to leapfrog the All Blacks in the world rankings and end New Zealand’s decade-long hold of top spot, they, along with Ireland and England, may get another chance this weekend.

Should Australia beat New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday morning, a Welsh victory would take Warren Gatland’s side to number one, while England would require a 16-point winning margin. Ireland, who do not play this weekend, would be the beneficiaries of a draw.

England: Daly; McConnochie, Joseph, Francis, Cokanasiga; Ford, Heinz; Genge, Cowan-Dickie, Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Ludlam, B Vunipola.

Replacements: George, Marler, Sinckler, Kruis, Singleton, Youngs, Farrell, Tuilagi

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