Elliot Daly has been handed an England full Test debut against South Africa because head coach Eddie Jones feels he currently has the edge in sharpness over Jonathan Joseph.
Daly, who has won five caps as a replacement, has got the nod to start at outside centre for Saturday’s autumn series opener against the Springboks at Twickenham.
The Wasps centre will form a new midfield partnership alongside Owen Farrell that offers long-range left and right-footed kicking options.
“JJ has missed a little bit of training lately and I just feel that Elliot is a bit sharper at the moment,” said Jones, when asked about his decision to select Daly ahead of Joseph, who drops to the bench.
“He (Daly) has got pace and power and a booming left foot which can be very useful, and he has done well in Tests when he has come off the bench. JJ is a great team player and he will be back.”
Daly was among the Aviva Premiership’s most dangerous players last season with his acceleration and eye for an outside break terrorising defences to Wasps’ benefit.
While Joseph relies on elusive footwork and a burst of speed to beat defenders, Daly’s skill lies in gliding through gaps and he also provides a long-range boot out of hand and from the kicking tee.
Injuries have given Northampton flanker Tom Wood a chance to end a year-long spell in the international wilderness that began after last autumn’s World Cup. Wood has been picked at seven ahead of Nathan Hughes, with Jones opting for his work-rate, line-out expertise and experience over the explosive potential of the Wasps back row.
“South Africa rugby is about big ball carriers and playing off the back of that,” said Jones. “Tom has got a big role in that area – to stop their ball runners. He has got a good workrate and he can stop them on the gainline.”
England captain Dylan Hartley said his Northampton team-mate had earned his recall. “Tom has been out in the wilderness but he has got his head down and worked really hard and it has paid off. His work ethic is unbelievable.”
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