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March 20, 2019

England drop Cokanasiga as Jones rings changes for Scotland

England drop Cokanasiga as Jones rings changes for Scotland
'Joe Cokanasiga has been dropped despite being named man of the match against Italy' - By: AFP/File Ben STANSALL

Joe Cokanasiga has been dropped by England coach Eddie Jones for Saturday's Six Nations finale against Scotland at Twickenham.

The powerhouse wing produced a man-of-the-match display in England's 57-14 thrashing of Italy as he rampaged around Twickenham last weekend, with former England coach Clive Woodward comparing the Fiji-born flyer to New Zealand great Jonah Lomu.

But Cokanasiga was not even named on the bench for the Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland with fellow wing Jack Nowell, the man he came in for last weekend, returning after a shoulder 'stinger' injury in one of four changes made by Jones to his starting XV.

- 'Looking after Joe' -

Jones said leaving the four-times capped Cokanasiga out completely was all part of his plan for the 21-year-old's future development ahead of this year's World Cup in Japan.

"Joe's a good, young player and we're looking after him," Jones told reporters at England's training base in Bagshot, southwest of London, on Thursday.

"He'll feature very strongly in our plans for the future, but we just feel this week that Jack Nowell is our best player in that position.

"He (Cokanasiga) is a young player and we don't need to rush him. We'll bring him through carefully and he's got a long career ahead of him."

The Australian added: "We've got a good plan in place for him. He'll be ready by the World Cup."

Elsewhere Henry Slade returns in the centres to partner Manu Tuilagi.

Ben Te'o drops to the bench, with Jones opting for a more traditional midfield balance of guile and strength following last week's power-packed duo.

There are also two changes in the pack, with Mark Wilson back at blindside flanker instead of Brad Shields and prop Ben Moon returning in place of Ellis Genge.

Ben Youngs will make his 85th appearance to surpass the England record for a scrum-half held by Danny Care.

If Wales beat Ireland in Cardiff earlier on Saturday they will be crowned champions and complete a Grand Slam.

But if the Welsh lose, England will take the title instead if they beat the Scots.

"It's the last week of the tournament so it's exciting. It will be a fascinating finish too, with the three teams that can win it and we are playing against one of our most traditional foes in Scotland," said Jones.

"Scotland are a difficult side -- they are always at you, they play with a lot of enthusiasm and effort and have got a lot of attacking strings to their bow," he added.

Scotland beat England 25-13 at Murrayfield to win the Calcutta Cup last season but they have only beaten Italy so far in this Six Nations and the Scots have not won at Twickenham since 1983.

Whatever happens, England will have had a far better Championship after losing their last three Six Nations matches to finish fifth last season.

That was part of a run of five straight Test defeats that included subsequent losses in the opening two internationals of their tour of South Africa.

"The massive improvement for us is in our mindset," said Jones," whose side would have been going for a Grand Slam themselves but for a second-half collapse during a 21-13 loss to Wales in Cardiff.

"That's what's pleased me the most, the clarity with which we can play the game and the way we are becoming adaptable.

"We still have a long way to go don't get me wrong but it's going to be massively important for Saturday.

"But if we impose our game on Scotland, it'll be pretty tough for them."

England (15-1)

Elliot Daly; Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Owen Farrell (capt), Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Tom Curry, Mark Wilson; George Kruis, Joe Launchbury; Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Ellis Genge

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Dan Cole, Brad Shields, Nathan Hughes, Ben Spencer, George Ford, Ben Te'o

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