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Preview: England v Fiji

Preview: England v Fiji

George Ford Fiji

England will look to finish their Summer Nations Series on a high when they welcome a dangerous Fiji side to Twickenham on Saturday.

Steve Borthwick has been forced to deal with a blow this week with winger Anthony Watson ruled out of the World Cup through injury, while Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola will both miss the start of the tournament through suspension.

That opens the door for some new faces to stake a claim in this final Summer Nations Series clash, with England coming into the game off the back of defeat in Dublin.

Fiji were also beaten last weekend, losing 34-17 to France in Nantes, but were recent Pacific Nations Cup winners and kept it close for much of the game against Les Bleus.

Team news

England have made nine changes from the side that was beaten in Dublin last weekend, including a first Test start for hooker Theo Dan.

Courtney Lawes will captain the side as he wins his 100th cap for his country, while Ben Earl gets the nod at No.8 and Jonny May is included on the wing despite not being included in England’s initial 33-man squad for the World Cup.

Fiji have also rung the changes, with seven new faces compared to the side that took on France including skipper Waisea Nayacalevu, who starts at outside centre, partnering Semi Radradra.

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There will be plenty of familiar faces for English fans, with the likes of Albert Tuisue, Sam Matavesi and Eroni Mawi all experienced Premiership campaigners.

Ones to watch

Alex Mitchell returned to the squad in place of the injured Jack van Poortvliet and will now get his chance to start against Fiji. While he cannot compete with the experience of fellow scrum-halves Ben Youngs and Danny Care, with the latter named on the bench, this will be his chance to show that he deserves a spot for England’s World Cup opener against Argentina.

For Fiji, the big question ahead of the World Cup surrounds the full-back jersey, with Setariki Tuicuvu not in the squad. That leaves a battle between Sireli Maqala and Ilaisa Droasese, with the latter getting his chance this weekend as he looks to carry his Fijian Drua form onto the Test stage.

@autumnnationsseriesVakarau na cibi ni se bera na uvu na matai ni sici! 🇫🇯 Fiji performing the Cibi before kick off!♬ original sound – Autumn Nations Series ⚡️

Stat attack

  • England have won all seven previous meetings between the sides, with their most recent victory – a 58-15 win in 2016 – also their biggest.
  • Fiji have won three of their last four matches and have scored at least two tries in each of their last 12, scoring four tries or more in their three victories this year.
  • England’s Freddie Steward has made more metres (583) than any other player in Tier 1 Test rugby in 2023 while no player has made more turnovers than Maro Itoje (7).
  • Fiji skipper Waisea Nayacalevu ranked joint first for line breaks in the Pacific Nations Cup with three, while only Sireli Maqala (171) made more metres than Waisea’s 168.

Teams

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Max Malins, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Theo Dan, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Ollie Chessum, 6 Courtney Lawes (c), 7 Jack Willis, 8 Ben Earl

Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Danny Care, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Joe Marchant

Fiji: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu (c), 12 Semi Radradra, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Caleb Muntz, 9 Frank Lomani, 1 Eroni Mawi, 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Luke Tagi, 4 Isoa Nasilasila, 5 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 6 Albert Tuisue, 7 Lekima Tagitagivalu, 8 Viliame Mata

Replacements: 16 Zuriel Togiatama, 17 Jone Koroiduadua, 18 Samu Tawake, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Vilive Miramira, 21 Simione Kuruvoli, 22 Teti Tela, 23 Kalaveti Ravouvou

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