England v Argentina: Alex Coles made his debut against the Pumas


Coles, who can also play on the wing, has scored three tries in seven games for Northampton this season.
Date: November 6, Sunday Start: 14:15 GMT Place: Twickenham Stadium
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and updates on BBC Radio 5 Live

Alex Coles will make his debut in England’s second row against Argentina on Sunday, with Maro Itoje moving to the flanks to cover for the injured Courtney Lawes.

Coles, 23, has represented England at all age levels and was named Northampton’s breakthrough player last season.

Owen Farrell captains the team and is paired with Manu Tuilagi in midfield.

Ben Youngs starts ahead of Jack van Poortvliet at scrum-half and Billy Vunipola continues at number eight.

Vunipola, who started England’s three Tests against Australia this summer after more than a year out of action, is joined in the squad for the match by brother Mako, who is among the substitutes.

Jonny May was in contention to play despite dislocating his elbow on October 21, but lost out on the wing to Joe Cokanasiga and was preferred by Jack Nowell.

Back row Jack Willis, without a club since Wasps went into administration, is on the bench.

Lawes is still recovering from his knock on club duty in September.

It’s the first time manager Eddie Jones has opted for a 10-12-13 combination of Marcus Smith, Farrell and Tuilagi, which he hopes will stick before next year’s World Cup in France.

England will host Japan, New Zealand and South Africa on consecutive weekends after meeting the Pumas.

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England squad to face Argentina: Carer; Cokanasiga, Tuilagi, Farrell (c), Nowell; Smith, Young; Genge, Cowan-Dickie, Sinckler, Coles, Hill, Itoje, Curry, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Singleton, M Vunipola, Heyes, Ribbans, Simmonds, Willis, Van Poortvliet, Slade

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“It has been a very good week of preparation and I have been very pleased with the attitude of the team,” said Jones.

“They have shown a real work ethic and determination to improve and our leader, Owen [Farrell]Ellis [Genge] and Jack [Nowell] they have really lifted the team.

“We are looking forward to a great game of rugby at a packed Twickenham stadium against a very good Argentina team.”

Saint Coles steps up to the plate

Alex Coles
Coles has played alongside some of his senior Test teammates, such as fly-half Marcus Smith, at the age level.

Coles, whose mother and father are both vicars, can also play in the back row and Jones has tipped to put pressure on versatile team-mate Lawes.

“Playing for England has always been a huge goal for me, although it wasn’t in my mindset at the start of the season.” he told the Mail on Sunday last month. external link

“I won’t get too ahead of myself. You see a lot of players come and go in rugby and that makes you realize how quickly things can change.”

Coles featured in the England side that finished fifth at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup and has scored three tries in seven Premiership appearances for Northampton this season.