Marcus Smith has been in scintillating form for Premiership winners Harlequins
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Eddie Jones, the England head coach, has named eight uncapped players in his starting XV to face the USA on Sunday, with Harlequins’ fly-half Marcus Smith set to make his long-awaited Test debut.
Smith is the only player from Premiership champions Harlequins to be selected, with Gloucester captain Lewis Ludlow set to lead England as he makes his Test debut. Ludlow was due to lead England ‘A’ last weekend before their match with Scotland ‘A’ was cancelled following a number of positive Covid cases in the Scottish camp.
Young Leicester players Freddie Steward at full-back and Joe Heyes at tighthead prop have been rewarded for their fine seasons with Test starts, while Bristol scrum-half Harry Randall also makes his England debut having trained with the national side during the start of the Six Nations before picking up an injury.
The other uncapped players include Sale hooker Curtis Langdon, Bath lock Josh McNally – who is the eldest of the debutants at 30 and partners his club team-mate Charlie Ewels in the second row – and finally Newcastle Falcons No 8 Callum Chick.
A further four uncapped players have been included on the bench, with Newcastle hooker Jamie Blamire and prop Trevor Davison both in the frame to make their Test debuts.
Jones has opted for a six-two split, with only two reserve backs including Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga.
The final uncapped player in the matchday squad is Sale flanker Ben Curry, brother of British and Irish Lions call-up Tom. Ben was scheduled to make his debut four years ago on the tour to Argentina before an untimely injury.
England squad to face USA
Other notable selections include Joe Cokanasiga on the wing, set to win his first cap since facing the USA at the Rugby World Cup having struggled with first injury and then form.
Exeter’s Henry Slade, the only player from last weekend’s beaten Premiership finalists and most-capped player in the side on 38 caps, is named in midfield alongside Worcester’s Ollie Lawrence.
Max Malins, Ellis Genge and Sam Underhill are all regulars who start, while Beno Obano, who made his England debut in the spring, is named on the bench alongside another one-capper in Worcester’s Ted Hill, who has not played for England since the autumn of 2018. Lewis Ludlam and Dan Robson round out the matchday 23.
Jones said: “Over the past three weeks our biggest message to the players is what an opportunity this is to show what they can do and make their mark with England.
“They’ve applied themselves as a group and worked very hard individually during this camp to reach their personal bests. Now it’s all about coming together as a team, gelling and putting in a good performance at the weekend.”