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England rugby revolution is on HOLD with Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt on the bench – CHRIS FOY

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CHRIS FOY: The revolution is on HOLD. This is not the root-and-branch overhaul England fans were hoping for, with Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt on the bench and Sam Simmonds not even in the squad for Tonga clash

  • England head coach Eddie Jones names his squad for Tonga clash on Saturday
  • Exciting fly-half Marcus Smith only makes the bench after minor leg injury
  • Tom Curry out of position at No 8, with Alex Dombrandt also on the bench
  • Adam Radwan and Freddie Steward are exciting new backline additions 











The revolution is on hold – at least partially. England fans hoping to witness the launching of a brave new era against Tonga on Saturday will have mixed emotions.

Marcus Smith as a replacement is not what the rugby public were craving. He was supposed to be wearing No 10. Sadly, Harlequins’ playmaker sensation has been hampered by a minor leg injury, so he is having to bide his time. Smith will be more frustrated than any Twickenham spectator or armchair viewer.

But there is X-factor in the back line, even without the new maestro running the show at fly-half. Adam Radwan can be a box-office phenomenon and a hellish prospect for opposition defences. Newcastle’s turbo-charged wing has the potential to run amok against out-classed visitors, providing there is sufficient creative intent to send the ball his way.

Marcus Smith only makes the bench for England against Tonga after a minor leg injury

Marcus Smith only makes the bench for England against Tonga after a minor leg injury

Eddie Jones has resisted the temptation to completely overhaul his England team

Eddie Jones has resisted the temptation to completely overhaul his England team

This is a good, powerful side – it’s just not the root-and-branch overhaul which was anticipated and hoped for. Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade are a proven midfield combination. Jonny May has ample pedigree as a Test try-scorer. Owen Farrell is not who the impatient masses wanted to see at 10, but in fairness to the captain, his recent form for Saracens has been impressive.

Up front, England have an imposing look. Ellis Genge and Jamie George come into the national team on a roll – the latter fired by the injustice of being left out of the squad initially. Kyle Sinckler and Maro Itoje are two of very few shoo-ins and Jonny Hill deserves his inclusion after an impressive Lions tour which enhanced his reputation, in the highest company.

ENGLAND TEAM TO PLAY TONGA

ENGLAND XV: 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. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 93 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).

BENCH: 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. George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 4 caps).  

But there will be loud grumbles about the back row. There already have been. Eddie Jones is not afraid to pick trusted players out of position and he is at it again with Tom Curry at No 8. Sending Sam Simmonds home early was a decision which flew in the face of all available evidence – other than the hidden gauge of Red Rose training. And Alex Dombrandt will join Smith in stewing among the reserves, with a sense that he should be in the first-choice XV.

The Harlequins pair and outstanding talents. England fans must hope they explode off the bench and combine with breath-taking brilliance in attack, as they so often do at domestic level. Then the calls for both to start against Australia next week will grow even louder. They have to take every chance going to show Jones they are too good to ignore.

For now, England are halfway to revolution. There’s still time to complete the process this month.

Harlequins No 8 Alex Dombrandt also has to make do with a place on the bench

Harlequins No 8 Alex Dombrandt also has to make do with a place on the bench

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