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Six Nations 2022: Eddie Jones commits to attacking Wales with pace by selecting Harry Randall

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CHRIS FOY: Pairing Harry Randall with Marcus Smith is a firm commitment by Eddie Jones to attacking Wales with turbo-charged intent… while Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi will add plenty of clout and big-game nous

  • England have named their team to play Wales at Twickenham on Saturday
  • Harry Randall continues at scrum-half, with Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi returning after concussion and injury-enforced absences
  • Eddie Jones appears to committed to attacking Wales with pace 


This is a potent England line-up to confront Wales. Eddie Jones has been able to add power and experience to his side, while making sure there is still plenty of pace to launch and finish attacks.

What a time to be able to reinstate Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi. These two forces of nature will add hard-carrying, hard-tackling clout and a hefty stack of big-game nous. Recent history has shown that this fixture demands a street-wise streak and England have added more of that by selecting these two veterans who have recovered from injury.

The decision by Eddie Jones to propel Lawes straight back into his starting XV – as captain to boot – is a statement of faith in the Northampton forward, while also a calculated gamble. Lawes will be making his first appearance for the best part of six weeks and it is an in-at-the-deep-end return to action. Ideally, he would have had game-time at his club first, but needs must. His country need him and he is a phenomenal athlete who is wise enough to know if he is truly ready or not.

Eddie Jones has brought in experience by selecting Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi

Eddie Jones has brought in experience by selecting Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi

ENGLAND TEAM TO PLAY WALES 

15 Freddie Steward; 14 Max Malins, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Jack Nowell; 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Harry Randall; 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Kyle Sinckler; 4 Charlie Ewels, 5 Maro Itoje; 6 Courtney Lawes (captain), 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Tom Curry.

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Sam Simmonds; 21 Ben Youngs, 22 George Ford, 23 Elliot Daly.

An even bigger statement by Jones is opting for Harry Randall at scrum-half, ahead of Ben Youngs. The head coach is known as a ruthless selector and he has proved as much once again. This will be the day that Youngs becomes the most-capped England player of all time, if he is sent on from the bench. If Jones had been swayed by sentiment, he would have picked Youngs to start, but he is showing a commitment to the ‘new England’ vision which has been talked up since the autumn.

Pairing Randall with Marcus Smith again is a firm, telling commitment to attacking with turbo-charged intent. Those home fans coming to Twickenham on Saturday will relish the prospect of their team setting about the visitors with deadly intent. It promises to be an absorbing spectacle.

But the key is balance and that is where Tuilagi comes in. Suddenly, with him at inside centre, England’s midfield unit has a fuller repertoire. At a stroke, the Sale centre will bring the ‘go-forward’ which is vital to allow the creative talents around him to thrive. With Tuilagi breaching the gainline, Smith and Henry Slade – served at speed by Randall – can unleash the back three to wreak havoc.

Scrum-half Harry Randall

Fly-half Marcus Smith

Harry Randall (left) and Marcus Smith (right) continue their alliance after starting against Italy

Up front, it is good to see Alex Dombrandt retained at No 8, in the hope that he can build on his promising performance in Rome and run amok, in alliance with club-mate Smith. He will need to aid Tom Curry’s quest to gain breakdown ascendancy too, as Wales will come at them in that area, as ever. And Jones’s ruthless streak is also evident in the choice at hooker, where Luke Cowan-Dickie has been selected ahead of Jamie George – who scored two tries and excelled against Italy.

England’s bench is loaded with experience and the presence of Sam Simmonds there provides a game-breaking threat too, but with Youngs, George Ford and Elliot Daly as the replacement backs, the hosts will be wanting to close out the game late on, rather than chase it.

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