Willis in training ahead of his England debut (Image: The RFU Collection via Getty Ima)
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Eddie Jones says “flippin’ tough” Jack Willis is just the man for England’s Nations Cup dust-up with Georgia.
The two countries have not met since a specially arranged scrummage session in Oxford last year descended into a brawl.
Jones insists England are ready for more of the same and believes the “destructive” powers of Willis are perfect for the Twickenham scrap.
“This is going to be no tea party,” warned the Australian. “We remember what happened in Oxford. When the first scrum went down they kept going.
“This is going to be a hard, tough game, a big physical test and we’re prepared for that. We’ve picked a side for that.”
Jamie Roberts: Wales must front up and use 'hurt' to end losing run in Nations Cup
Sparks flew when England and Georgia packed down in a scrummage session
(Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Opportunity knocks finally for Willis, 23, two years after being picked by England only to miss out with a serious knee injury.
The Wasps star earned his spurs by winning twice as many turnovers last season as any other player in English club rugby’s top flight.
That bagged him every individual accolade going, including Premiership player of the season and the Players’ Player award from his peers.
Jack Willis handed England debut as Eddie Jones rings changes with Georgia on his mind
Ollie Lawrence gets his first start a fortnight after debut off bench in Rome
(Image: Getty Images)
Bath prop Will Stuart is also handed a first start, ahead of Kyle Sinckler
(Image: The RFU Collection via Getty Ima)
Jones attempted to douse the hype surrounding the uncapped flanker by stressing that club and international rugby are very different.
But he admitted: “Jack deserves the opportunity. He has a good nose for the ball, he gets himself into good positions and he's flippin’ tough.
“You’ve got to have plenty of courage to put your head over the ball – when you consider you’ve got 130kg blokes ready to clean you out – and he does that consistently.
Ben Youngs takes fresh guard after reaching century and targets 2023 Rugby World Cup
Max Malins set to make his debut off the bench at Twickenham
(Image: The RFU Collection/Getty Images)
‘In Australian slang we’d call him a knock-about bloke. He just gets on with it. Nothing fazes him too much. He mixes readily with all the different players, listens well, takes praise and criticism equally well.”
Jones is also set to hand a debut off the bench to Bristol’s Max Malins, while Ollie Lawrence and Will Stuart get their first starts.
England: Daly; Joseph, Lawrence, Slade, May; Farrell (capt), Youngs; Genge, George, Stuart, Launchbury, Ewels, Itoje, Willis, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Dunn, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Earl, Curry, Robson, Malins, Marchant.