Jack Willis handed England debut as Eddie Jones rings changes with Georgia on his mind

Willis finally gets his chance two years after serious injury cost him England tour place (Image: Getty Images)

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Turnover king Jack Willis will make his England debut in Saturday’s Nations Cup opener against Georgia.

The Wasps flanker, who scooped the pot at English club rugby's end-of-season awards, comes into a side much-changed from that which beat Italy a fortnight ago to capture the Six Nations title.

Eddie Jones has changed half his team with six players called into the starting line-up and Jonathan Joseph and Maro Itoje switching positions to wing and blindside respectively.

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Willis tackles Exeter's Jack Nowell during last month's Premiership final
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Worcester centre Ollie Lawrence and Bath prop Will Stuart get their first starts and Bristol's Max Malins is set for his debut off the bench. But it is Willis’ selection which is most anticipated.

The young openside was picked by Jones for the 2018 South Africa tour only for a serious knee injury put paid to that.

He worked his way back to fitness and last season won more than twice as many turnovers as any other player in English rugby’s top flight.

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Ollie Lawrence starts at outside-centre alongside Henry Slade
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That earned him the Premiership player of the season award as well as the Players’ Player accolade from his peers.

And Jones believes this is the perfect match to introduce him to international rugby – given the ferocity Georgia bring to the forward battle.

Jones said: “We’ve had a really good week of training.  We know there are a lot of expectations on us and we’ve applied ourselves hard and put a lot of pressure on ourselves in the early part of this week.

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Max Malins scores in Bristol's European Challenge Cup final defeat of Toulon
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“Georgia will be a tough opponent, so we have a team with some real power in midfield.  We have a good mix of youth and experience across the squad and they are completely focused on putting in an excellent performance on Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to being back at our home at Twickenham, we are humbled by the opportunity and want to give people a reason to smile during such a tough time for the country.”

ENGLAND

15. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 43 caps)

14. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 51 caps)

13. Ollie Lawrence (Worcester Warriors, 1 cap)

12. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 30 caps)

11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 57 caps)

10. Owen Farrell (c) (Saracens, 83 caps)

9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 100 caps)

1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 19 caps)

2. Jamie George (Saracens, 50 caps)

3. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 4 caps)

4. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 16 caps)

5. Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 65 caps)

6. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 39 caps)

7. Jack Willis (Wasps, uncapped)

8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 52 caps)

Replacements

16. Tom Dunn, (Bath Rugby, 1 cap)

17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 60 caps)

18. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 36 caps)

19. Ben Earl (Bristol Bears, 4 caps)

20. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 24 caps)

21. Dan Robson (Wasps, 3 caps)

22. Max Malins (Bristol Bears, uncapped)

23. Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 3 caps)