England have named an unchanged starting lineup to contest their critical Six Nations showdown against Wales. Both teams head into a potential winner-takes-all match at Twickenham on 12 March with their unbeaten records still intact and just one round of fixtures remaining.
As expected, head coach Eddie Jones has opted to include Manu Tuilagi among his replacements. The Leicester Tigers centre has not played a single minute of international rugby since the 2014 summer tour of New Zealand after being ruled out for 15 months with a serious groin problem. Although that injury would have kept him out of the 2015 World Cup anyway, his selection for the tournament was further prohibited by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) after he admitted three charges of assault and one of criminal damage last May.
Tuilagi finally made his long-awaited club comeback for Leicester Tigers in January, but his chances of returning to the England fold for the opening stages of the Six Nations were quashed by a hamstring strain suffered in the European Champions Cup defeat away to Stade Francais. The explosive 24-year-old is now fit again, however, scoring his first try of the season against the Exeter Chiefs last weekend.
"Manu Tuilagi's selection to the match day squad is based more on potential than his recent performances in the Premiership," Jones said. "He has trained well this week and I am pleased with what I've seen."
Elsewhere for England, Luke Cowan-Dickie replaces Jamie George as cover for captain Dylan Hartley after the Saracens hooker was ruled out for up to 10 weeks with a biceps tendon injury. Lock Joe Launchbury returns to the bench in place of Courtney Lawes after recovering from a hamstring issue, with Jones keeping faith in the partnership of George Kruis and young Maro Itoje. Alex Goode makes way for Tuilagi and tight-head prop Kieran Brookes is selected ahead of Northampton's Paul Hill.
"It is a shame that Jamie George misses out through injury and we wish him well in his recovery, but it provides a great opportunity for Luke Cowan-Dickie to show what he's about," Jones added. "We've picked our best 23 to get the job done on Saturday.
"The squad have prepared well this week and I'm happy with how things have progressed. There is a huge amount to play for on Saturday and we are looking forward to being back at home in front of a vocal Twickenham crowd."
England team to face Wales at Twickenham
15. Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Owen Farrell, 11. Jack Nowell, 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. George Kruis, 6. Chris Robshaw, 7. James Haskell, 8. Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17. Mako Vunipola, 18. Kieran Brookes, 19. Joe Launchbury, 20. Jack Clifford, 21. Danny Care, 22. Manu Tuilagi, 23. Elliot Daly.