Willi Heinz set for England debut in World Cup warm-up against Wales

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Willi Heinz will make his England debut against Wales on Sunday and is immediately installed as vice-captain despite his lack of Test experience.

The New Zealand-born 32-year-old has been given the stage to prove he deserves a place at this autumn’s World Cup after being picked as the starting scrum-half for the warm-up Test at Twickenham.

Ben Youngs, England’s first choice in the position, is included on the bench for a game that takes place 24 hours before Eddie Jones finalises his 31-man squad for Japan 2019.

Also winning his first cap is Ruaridh McConnochie, the Bath wing who followed up a fine spell in sevens with a strong finish to the 2018-19 Gallagher Premiership season.

Lining up the other wing is Test Lion Anthony Watson, who will be making his first appearance for England since damaging his Achilles at the end of the 2018 Six Nations.

Owen Farrell misses out altogether so George Ford starts at fly-half and is also named captain of a side that contains 377 caps.

Piers Francis profits from Ben Te’o’s unexpected absence from the training squad for Wales by winning his fourth cap in a centre partnership alongside Henry Slade.

For the first time, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry start in the same back row despite being specialist opensides with Curry packing down at six.

The first of back-to-back matches against Wales sees prop Dan Cole and locks Joe Launchbury and Charlie Ewels presented with their last chance to secure their World Cup places.

England’s build-up to the World Cup begins in earnest on Sunday and Jones re-iterated his determination to seize New Zealand’s crown as world champions.

Elsewhere, Alun Wyn Jones will become Wales’ most capped player when he leads a powerful team into Sunday’s World Cup warm-up clash against England.

It will be lock Jones’ 135th Test match appearance – 126 for Wales and nine in British and Irish Lions colours – to overtake prop Gethin Jenkins.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named a team that includes 13 starters from the Six Nations title and Grand Slam-clinching victory over Ireland in March.

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