Autumn internationals: England v Japan team news, quotes and key stats

England winger Joe Cokanasiga
England winger Joe Cokanasiga, who averages eight metres per carry in the Premiership with Bath this season, turned 21 on Thursday
Autumn internationals: England v Japan
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app and follow text commentary online; Watch highlights on BBC Two from 19:30 GMT.

Team news & line-ups

Eighteen stone Bath winger Joe Cokanasiga will make his England debut on Saturday in a team featuring 11 changes from the loss to New Zealand.

Club team-mate Zach Mercer earns a first start at number eight, while there is a new centre pairing of Alex Lozowski and Jack Nowell.

George Ford leads the side on his 50th cap with usual co-captains Owen Farrell and Dylan Hartley on the bench.

Worcester flanker Ted Hill, 19, is also among the replacements.

Japan make six changes from their defeat by the All Blacks earlier in November, with 31-year-old flanker Masakatsu Nishikawa awarded a first start, alongside fellow Sun Wolves wing Akihito Yamada and experienced scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka.

England: 15-Daly, 14-Cokanasiga, 13-Nowell, 12-Lozowski, 11-Ashton, 10-Ford (capt), 9-Care; 1-Hepburn, 2-George, 3-Williams, 4-Ewels, 5-Itoje, 6-Lawes, 7-Wilson, 8-Mercer.

Replacements: 16-Hartley, 17-Moon, 18-Sinckler, 19-Hill, 20-Underhill, 21-Wigglesworth, 22-Farrell, 23-Slade.

Japan: 15-Tupou, 14-Yamada, 13-Lafaele, 12-Nakamura, 11-Fukuoka, 10-Tamura, 9-Tanaka; 1-Inagaki, 2-Sakate, 3-Koo, 4-Van der Walt, 5-Helu, 6-Leitch (capt), 7-Nishikawa, 8-Himeno.

Replacements: 16-Niwai, 17-Yamamoto, 18-Ai Valu, 19-Anise, 20-Tui, 21-Nunomaki, 22-Nagare, 23-Matsuda.

Commentator's notes

Chris Jones: Eddie Jones was always likely to tinker with selection for this one - Japan are the weakest team England will face this autumn - but this is a more experimental line-up than was envisaged.

The selection of Joe Cokanasiga on the wing is eye-catching as the Bath winger looks to state his World Cup claims, while Worcester flanker Ted Hill has come from nowhere to make the bench. Hill has made a sizeable impression on the England players and coaches in the past few weeks, and has a big future.

Jones has urged England to play with control against a Japanese team he expects will want to make the game fast and loose.

'Desire, pace, power' - Jones on England debutant Cokanasiga

View from both camps

England head coach Eddie Jones: "This weekend is a good opportunity for us to test the depth of the squad.

"Japan is an important game as we want to get back to winning ways.

"We gave the players two days off after three weeks of intensive work. We have had a short preparation but a good preparation.

"We are expecting plenty of energy, aggression and fast ball movement from Japan. They will be full of surprises, quick taps, line-outs and plays. They are going to have a bag of magic."

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph: "We just play our rugby. We like to play quick, we're not as big as other sides.

"We don't want rain come kick-off time, and I think we've shown over the last couple of years if we can get our game going we can push teams hard.

"You could say they (England) were unlucky against the All Blacks. But my focus really is just to go out there and make sure we can do our very best against a very good England side."

Match facts


  • England ran out 60-7 winners in Sydney in the inaugural 1987 World Cup in their only previous meeting with Japan.


  • England's defeat by New Zealand was a sixth in eight Tests (won two).
  • However, the Red Rose have won 10 of their last 11 autumn internationals.
  • The defeat to New Zealand was just the third time in 56 Tests they have surrendered a half-time lead of five or more points.
  • Sam Underhill made a game-high 24 tackles against New Zealand, four more than any other player.


  • Japan have secured just four wins against tier one nations in their history - against Wales in June 2013, Italy in 2014 and 2018, and South Africa in 2015.
  • They have never beaten a tier one nation on their own ground.
  • Japan have won four times in the last 10 Tests, losing five and drawing one.
  • The Brave Blossoms have scored an average of 3.4 tries per game during that run.

Match officials

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)

Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) & Dan Jones (Wales)

TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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