Uncapped Brad Shields named in England squad for first Test against South Africa in Johannesburg

7 Jun
Uncapped Brad Shields named in England squad for first Test against South Africa in Johannesburg
Brad Shields

Brad Shields has been fast-tracked into England’s squad for their opening Test against South Africa.

The uncapped Kiwi, who is to join Wasps once his Super Rugby commitments are complete next month, only joined up with Eddie Jones’ men last weekend.

The 27-year-old Hurricanes captain and blindside flanker missed training on Monday due to jet leg having made the 7,655-mile journey from Wellington to Durban.

But he is named on the bench as the replacement lock for Saturday’s clash in Johannesburg.

Joe Launchbury has failed a fitness test on his calf injury so Nick Isiekwe partners Maro Itoje in the second row, making his first Test start having won two caps as a replacement in Argentina 12 months ago.

Billy Vunipola makes his first start for England since the end of the 2017 NatWest 6 Nations due to an injury-ravaged 18 months and is joined in the back row by 19-year-old openside Tom Curry.

Kyle Sinckler has won the battle of the tighthead props to start alongside Mako Vunipola and Jamie George in the front row with Harry Williams supplying cover from the bench.

Danny Cipriani has been overlooked completely for the 23 despite an outstanding season at Wasps with Piers Francis offering centre and fly-half cover from the bench.

Elliot Daly has been selected at full-back, the position he also filled in last month’s rout by the Barbarians at Twickenham, and once more Mike Brown is consigned to the left wing.

The outside centre slot will be filled by Henry Slade, who has edged Alex Lozowski, with Denny Solomona supplying wing cover from the bench.

“We have had a really good week in preparation for this weekend and we are pleased with the way the squad has come together,” head coach Eddie Jones said.

“Owen Farrell has settled in well to his new role as captain with the senior players supporting him, and there is a good feeling within the camp.

“We want to do something special on this tour and the players are all incredibly excited about this challenge and opportunity we have.

“Ellis Park is the spiritual homeland of South African rugby and the Springboks play to another level on that ground, so we know we have to raise our game physically early on and be enormously accurate in the way we play.”

England team to face South Africa: Elliot Daly; Jonny May, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Mike Brown, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Chris Robshaw, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Harry Williams, Brad Shields, Nathan Hughes, Ben Spencer, Piers Francis, Denny Solomona