England give Cipriani first start since 2008

After losing the series in Bloemfontein, a fifth straight test loss, England make four changes for the last match of the South African tour.

Johannesburg (AFP) – Fly-half Danny Cipriani will make his first start for England since 2008 when they play a dead-rubber Test against South Africa in Cape Town Saturday. 

“We are expecting a wet and windy day at Newlands and have elected to play Danny Cipriani ahead of George Ford to give us a left-foot kicking option,” explained coach Eddie Jones.

His inclusion in place of Ford is one of four changes — three enforced — from the team that lost the second Test and the series in Bloemfontein last weekend.

Loosehead prop Joe Marler replaces Mako Vunipola, who returned home last weekend for family reasons.

Number eight Billy Vunipola, Mako’s brother, was ruled out of the Cape Town finale by injury, and Nathan Hughes comes in.

Illness forced at change at loose forward with Brad Shields sidelined and Chris Robshaw recalled just one week after being dropped for the first time by Australia-born Jones. 

There are three chances to the bench with prop Alex Hepburn, lock Jonny Hill and loose forward Sam Simmonds promoted in a 6-2 forwards/backs split.

Jones said: “We will need to jump out of the blocks quickly again and make sure we maintain that pressure and make good decisions.

“I have been really impressed with the fortitude of the squad under Owen Farrell, who is a young captain, and with a number of young players who have really stuck to the task.

“We have had a really upbeat training week. We are up for the battle and are going to rip in on Saturday.

“I want another committed performance where it will be crucial to maintain our composure when the heat is on.”

While only pride is at stake after South Africa won 42-39 in Johannesburg and 23-12 in Bloemfontein, England are desperate to snap a five-Test losing streak.

Before touring South Africa, England lost Six Nations Championship matches against Scotland in Edinburgh, France in Paris and Ireland in London.

The dramatic loss of form came after Jones had won 24 of his first 25 Tests since succeeding Stuart Lancaster in 2015.

Team (15-1)

Elliot Daly; Jonny May, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (capt), Mike Brown; Danny Cipriani, Ben Youngs; Nathan Hughes, Tom Curry, Chris Robshaw; Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury; Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Joe Marler

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Alec Hepburn, Harry Williams, Jonny Hill, Mark Wilson, Sam Simmonds, Ben Spencer, Denny Solomona

Coach: Eddie Jones (AUS)