England: Ruaridh McConnochie, Joe Cokanasiga & Piers Francis to make Rugby World Cup debuts

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer in Kobe, Japan
Rugby World Cup: USA will be hardened for battle - Jones
Rugby World Cup - England v USA
Venue: Kobe, Japan Date: Thursday, 26 September
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app. Live on ITV.

England have rung the changes for the second game of their World Cup campaign as coach Eddie Jones looks to deal with the short turnaround between matches.

Only five of the players who started the 35-3 win over Tonga on Sunday will begin against the USA in Kobe on Thursday, with George Ford captaining the side from fly-half.

There are World Cup debuts for wingers Ruaridh McConnochie and Joe Cokanasiga, as well as centre Piers Francis.

Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We want a fast start against the USA.

"We deliberately rope-a-doped against Tonga, let them play for the first 20 minutes with the intention to come home strong.

"Against the US we want to take a different approach - we want to take them at the start of the game, go out pretty hard, attack them a bit more and see where it leads us."

Owen farrell
England captain Owen Farrell (right) starts on the bench for the USA game, with George Ford deputising

Billy Vunipola starts once again at number eight, with prop Dan Cole winning his 91st cap to go joint-third with Jonny Wilkinson on England's all-time list.

Willi Heinz comes in at scrum-half and George Kruis into the second row, with Owen Farrell among the big names on the bench.

There is no place in the matchday 23 for Henry Slade, who made his return from injury as a replacement against Tonga and appeared to be in some discomfort on the pitch.

Jones said: "The best way to keep Billy fit is to keep him playing. He loves rugby, loves playing for this team and wants to play.

"We have looked at some players that would benefit not playing in this game, so have kept them out of the 23.

"But it is a great opportunity for another set of players to do the team proud.

"USA are a tough, physical team who are extremely well coached by Gary Gold.

"There are a number of players who our guys know really well and are a team we respect.

"They have prepared two weeks with the Marines for this game so they will be fit, tough and be playing for the pride of their country."

Cole seemed a long way from a third World Cup when Jones left him out of England's squad for the key clash against Wales in this year's Six Nations.

Ben Youngs, like Cole, will make his 91st appearance if he comes off the bench as expected; only Jason Leonard and Dylan Hartley having won more caps for the national men's team.

Ford, who plays with the pair for Leicester as well as England, told 5 Live: "It's a brilliant achievement for them both.

"For Coley to do that at tight-head prop, to be as resilient as he is, is an incredible achievement.

"And for Ben to keep his game at such a standard, to be the starting nine in the majority of 91 appearances for his country is incredible - it's a proud day for them and their families.

"We want to make it a pretty special day for them with a win."

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England have won all five of their previous meetings with the USA, and beat them in the World Cups of 1987, 1991 and 2007.

Twelve years ago, England came through 28-10 in Lens, when Owen Farrell's father Andy - now Ireland's defence coach - came off the bench.

England starting XV: Elliot Daly; Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph, Piers Francis, Joe Cokanasiga; George Ford, Willi Heinz; Joe Marler, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, Tom Curry, Lewis Ludlam, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jack Singleton, Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, Mark Wilson, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Anthony Watson.


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