Six Nations Championship 2017

Jack Clifford in novice England back row for Six Nations clash with Wales

Jack Nowell also replaces Jonny May on the wing as the defending champions travel to Cardiff at the weekend

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 7:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 7:26pm

Jack Clifford has been recalled to an inexperienced England back row in place of Tom Wood for Saturday’s Six Nations international against Wales in Cardiff.

Clifford, fit following a chest injury, has been called into the starting side by coach Eddie Jones while Wood, who has been struggling with a chest injury, is demoted to the bench.

The only other change to the England starting XV that beat France 19-16 at Twickenham in the grand slam champions tournament opener is on the wing, with Jack Nowell replacing Jonny May after the latter was sin-binned against France. May, like Wood, is now on the bench.

England could find themselves up against a vastly experienced Welsh loose forward trio comprising three British and Irish Lions, but Clifford, Maro Itoje – who is best known as a lock – and Nathan Hughes have just four back row starts between them, while Wood has 46 caps.

“Jack Clifford also deserves his starting role. He is a hard-working, young player,” Jones said.

“He has got a good record against Wales, he had a superb game against them in May, he knows what he is going to expect from Wales and we’re looking forward to him making an impact to our back row play.

“Tom Wood will also play his part later in the game off the bench as a finisher.”

England are on a national record 15-match winning streak, just three short of equalling world champions New Zealand’s all-time tier one record of 18 successive test victories.

England team to play Wales:

Mike Brown; Jack Nowell, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Nathan Hughes, Tom Wood, Maro Itoje; Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury; Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (captain), Joe Marler

Replacements: Jamie George, Matt Mullan, Kyle Sinckler, Tom Wood, James Haskell, Danny Care, Ben Te’o, Jonny May