George Furbank will start England’s Autumn Nations Series opener against Tonga at fly-half after Owen Farrell was ruled out of the Twickenham clash because of a positive test for coronavirus.
Furbank replaced Farrell in the team to win his fifth cap, with Courtney Lawes leading the team from blindside flanker.
Marcus Smith was also an option to replace England’s captain as chief playmaker but he remained on the bench after a leg injury limited his training this week to one session on Friday.
Head coach Eddie Jones said: “As Owen is unavailable to us, we’ve made these changes to the team to face Tonga today.
“It’s a great chance for the team to see how we adapt to challenges and keep focused on preparing for a big game. We can’t wait to play in front of a full crowd at Twickenham.”
England on Friday morning initially revealed Farrell had tested positive for Covid but only ruled him out of the first of three fixtures at Twickenham this month 90 minutes before kick-off.
Given that confirmed cases must isolate for 10 days, it means Farrell will also sit out Saturday’s clash with Australia.
Lawes leads the team for the first time, 12 years after winning the first of his 87 England caps.
ENGLAND TEAM VS TONGA:
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)
14. Adam Radwan (Newcastle Falcons, 1 cap)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 40 caps)
12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 43 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 66 caps)
10. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 4 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 109 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 30 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 59 caps)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 44 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 48 caps)
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps)
6. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 87 caps)
7. Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 24 caps)
8. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 33 caps)
16. Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 2 caps)
17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 72 caps)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)
19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 23 caps)
20. Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 1 cap)
21. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, uncapped)
22. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 2 caps)
23. Mark Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)
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