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Head coach Eddie Jones: Guy Porter and Tommy Freeman are England’s future

Tommy Freeman, left, and Guy Porter will start against Australia (Mike Egerton/Richard Sellers/PA)
Tommy Freeman, left, and Guy Porter will start against Australia (Mike Egerton/Richard Sellers/PA)

Eddie Jones insists debutants Guy Porter and Tommy Freeman represent England’s future as well as providing the skills needed to rectify the failings of the first Test defeat by Australia.

In a shock overhaul of the threequarters in response to the 30-28 loss in Perth, Porter replaces Joe Marchant at outside centre and Freeman ousts the underperforming Joe Cokanasiga on the left wing.

Completing the trio of changes to a backline whose average age drops to 24 is Jack van Poortvliet, who will be making his full debut at scrum-half after taking over from veteran Danny Care.

England were comprehensively beaten in the series opener, distorting the final scoreline with two late tries, and Jones has acted in the hope of inducing an improved performance in the second Test at Suncorp Stadium.

“We believe this is the future of the team going forward and we feel those players are ready,” head coach Jones said.

“We always try to make sure that young players are ready to play and we believe that both Guy and Tommy are ready to play.

“We’ve made the changes to the backline looking to get a bit more punch in how we play.

“We felt that we didn’t take opportunities as they availed themselves against Australia in the last game.”

Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints – Gallagher Premiership – Play Off – Semi Final – Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium
Guy Porter comes into the England team (Richard Sellers/PA)

England want Porter to bring a hard carrying threat to the midfield, thereby reprising a role he has performed with success for Leicester during their march to the Premiership title this season.

The 25-year-old spent his early years in London before moving to Australia where he came through the Wallabies’ academy system and gained a contract for the Brumbies, staying with the Super Rugby team until agreeing to join Leicester in 2020.

Freeman has been an explosive force for Northampton, using his 6ft 2ins and 16st frame to electric effect in the back three. Jones’ hope is that both players will go hunting for the ball.

“Porter plays with a lot of punch, he takes the line on and he gets between defenders well. The way Australia defends you’ve got to be able to do that,” Jones said.

“Freeman finds the ball. We wanted our back three to be in the game more last weekend and we feel that Freeman is the type of guy who can find the ball.

England v Barbarians – International Friendly – Twickenham Stadium
Sam Underhill also comes in (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Both of them are even-keeled, they get on with the job. They have trained really well in the time we’ve had them.”

Van Poortvliet is only marginally more experienced than Porter and Freeman having made his debut off the bench in Perth where he marked the occasion with a well-taken try.

“Jack’s an exciting young player. He’s got good command of the forward pack, good communication skills, a good kicking game and a fast pass. We believe that Danny will be useful in the last 20 or 30 minutes of the game,” Jones said.

The final adjustment to the side that crumbled in the final quarter at Optus Stadium is Sam Underhill filling the void at openside created by Tom Curry’s tour-ending concussion.

Leicester Tigers v Wasps RFC – Gallagher Premiership – Mattioli Woods Welford Road
Jack van Poortvliet is another new addition (Isaac Parkin/PA)

“Sam’s coming back into form. Since the 2019 World Cup he’s had a fair few injuries and spent a lot of time out of the game,” Jones said.

“I’ve seen in training his desire to find his best and certainly against Australia I think he can cause a bit of havoc.”

Jones has opted for a six-two split between forwards and backs on a bench that includes teenage sensation Henry Arundell, who will be aiming to make another explosive cameo appearance.