Stand-in captain George Ford is raring to go against the United States as England have to quickly put a gruelling Rugby World Cup opener behind them.
England were far too strong for Tonga last time out, winning 35-3, but coach Eddie Jones acknowledged there was room for improvement after a tough battle.
The 2003 champions are swiftly back on the field, though, with a clash with USA up next on Thursday. Jones has decided to rotate his squad, making 10 changes.
Ford will lead the side, stepping in for regular skipper Owen Farrell, and the fly-half is happy for the short turnaround following Sunday’s fixture, believing England will put in an improved display.
“We’re feeling good,” he said. “We have managed to get some good recovery done in the last couple of days.
“I think it’s a positive that we’re out there again on Thursday. The team and the squad can’t wait to get that out there and hopefully better our performance from Sunday.”
INJURY UPDATE | Eddie Jones has confirmed @Sladey_10 misses the game against @USARugby with a slight knee injury, while @Mako_Vunipola and @nowellsy15 are both back in contention to face @lospumas. #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/LfHMUdCdzT
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) September 24, 2019
Another of the beneficiaries from the much-changed side is former sevens star Ruaridh McConnochie.
McConnochie was uncapped when he was named in England’s World Cup squad and has played just once since, in a pre-tournament fixture with Italy.
He will now get the chance to make his World Cup debut as he comes up against another former sevens star in USA’s Martin Iosefo.
McConnochie said: “You couldn’t make it up. I have known Martin for the last three years and we were both travelling reserves at the Olympics and both ended up playing
“It is quite a cool story that we now end up playing against each other at the World Cup.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
England – Manu Tuilagi
The star of England’s opening match having missed the tournament four years ago, Tuilagi has kept his place for this clash. The centre is in top form and will be key to another victory.
United States – AJ MacGinty
MacGinty is among the Irish-born contingent in the USA squad and, playing his club rugby for Sale Sharks, will know his opponents only too well.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– England and the United States have met five times before, with England winning on each occasion. Three of those clashes have come in Rugby World Cup fixtures in 1987, 1991 and 2007.
– England have won all 17 of their World Cup matches against non-Tier 1 opposition, with those wins coming by an average margin of 41 points.
– The States have won just three of 25 previous Rugby World Cup matches. Their victories came against Japan (1987, 2003) and Russia (2011).
– But only once in their past 14 Rugby World Cup matches have USA failed to cross for a try – in their 64-0 loss to South Africa in 2015.
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