Farrell at flyhalf for England vs Boks, Tuilagi in reserves
LONDON (AP) — Co-captain Owen Farrell is the starting flyhalf for England against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, forcing George Ford to the reserves.
Meanwhile, South Africa welcomed back Duane Vermeulen and Warren Whiteley on Thursday to form a new back row with captain Siya Kolisi.
Farrell will start in the 10 jersey for only the third time under coach Eddie Jones.
Placing Farrell a spot inside his usual position allowed the inclusion of Ben Te'o at inside center, despite Te'o being limited to only 28 minutes of rugby for Worcester since May due to thigh and calf injuries.
If the gamble on Te'o doesn't work, Manu Tuilagi was in the reserves and could make his first international appearance since March 2016.
Newcastle's Mark Wilson was Jones' answer to the problem at No. 8. Billy Vunipola was out with a broken arm, Nathan Hughes was suspended for England's first three tests this month, and Ben Morgan was dropped from the squad.
Wilson will form an inexperienced back row with flankers Tom Curry and Brad Shields: They share 10 caps.
Bath back-rower Zach Mercer was set to make his debut from the reserves, along with Exeter prop Ben Moon.
By comparison, the Springboks' back row shares 100 caps.
No. 8 and former captain Whiteley was recovered from a groin injury which kept him out of their last two tests. Vermeulen missed the entire Rugby Championship after signing with Kubota Spears in Japan. His return has allowed Pieter-Steph du Toit to move from the openside flank to lock with provincial partner Eben Etzebeth, in the absence of Franco Mostert.
Mostert was among several European-based players unavailable to South Africa because the test was outside the international window. Backs Willie le Roux and Cheslin Kolbe were among them, and prop Tendai Mtawarira was sidelined by a neck injury.
Among the seven other changes from the team which lost to New Zealand 32-30 four weeks ago in Pretoria, fullback Damian Willemse will make his first start, scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl will make his second, and reserve lock Lood de Jager could make his first appearance this year after an injury layoff.
England: Elliot Daly, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te'o, Jonny May, Owen Farrell (co-captain), Ben Youngs; Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Brad Shields, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Dylan Hartley (co-captain), Alec Hepburn. Reserves: Jamie George, Ben Moon, Harry Williams, Charlie Ewels, Zach Mercer, Danny Care, George Ford, Manu Tuilagi.
South Africa: Damian Willemse, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Handre Pollard, Ivan van Zyl; Warren Whiteley, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit, Wilco Louw, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Embrose Papier, Elton Jantjies, Andre Esterhuizen.