LONDON — England will play Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday without captain Dylan Hartley starting for the first time in a rugby test under Eddie Jones.
Hartley was selected in the reserves on Thursday to enable Jamie George, the first-choice hooker during the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand, to make his first start as one of nine changes to the lineup which beat Australia 30-6 last weekend.
George Ford and Chris Robshaw will co-captain England, reprising their roles against the Barbarians in May.
Injuries to loose forwards Nathan Hughes and Sam Underhill have resulted in a stopgap back row: Robshaw makes his first start at openside flanker since Jones took over in 2015, Maro Itoje slots in on the blindside, and Sam Simmonds makes his first start at No. 8.
Robshaw’s move comes despite Jones stating in a newspaper column two years ago that he was only a “six-and-a-half at best.”
Ellis Genge starts at loosehead prop as Mako Vunipola misses out on the 23 altogether, Joe Launchbury survives but Courtney Lawes is on the bench after Charlie Ewels was given his spot in the second row.
Behind the scrum, Danny Care displaces Ben Youngs at scrumhalf, and Mike Brown returns at fullback after recovering from concussion, forming a back three with the retained Jonny May and Elliot Daly.
Owen Farrell is rested for the second time this month and does not even feature on the bench, making way for a new center partnership of Alex Lozowski and Henry Slade. Jonathan Joseph was dropped on Tuesday.
“We want to follow up last week’s performance against Australia and play better again this week,” said Jones, under whom England has won 21 of 22 tests. “Our intent in every game and every training session is to be better. We will have to play smart.”
Samoa was changed by only three from the side which lost its tour opener to Scotland 44-38 at Murrayfield.
Rey Lee-Lo, who played inside center against Scotland and in the 17-13 loss to Romania last weekend, has been dropped to the reserves for Bristol’s Alapati Leiua. Dwayne Polataivao has held on as starting scrumhalf from the Romania game.
Motu Matu’u, one of seven England-based players in the starting lineup stays at hooker after playing Romania, keeping France-based Manu Leiataua in the reserves. The loose forward trio of flanker TJ Ioane and Piula Fa’asalele and No. 8 Jack Lam has been restored. Josh Tyrell was also back after being rested for the Romania game to lock with captain Chris Vui.
England: Mike Brown, Jonny May, Henry Slade, Alex Lozowski, Elliot Daly, George Ford (co-captain), Danny Care; Sam Simmonds, Chris Robshaw (co-captain), Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole, Jamie George, Ellis Genge. Reserves: Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler, Harry Williams, Nick Isiekwe, Courtney Lawes, Ben Youngs, Piers Francis, Semesa Rokoduguni.
Samoa: Ah See Tuala, Paul Perez, Kieron Fonotia, Alapati Leiua, David Lemi, Tim Nanai-Williams, Dwayne Polataivao; Jack Lam, TJ Ioane, Piula Fa’asalele, Chris Vui (captain), Josh Tyrell, Donald Brighouse, Motu Matu’u, Jordan Lay. Reserves: Manu Leiataua, James Lay, Hisa Sasagi, Fa’atiga Lemalu, Ofisa Treviranus, Melani Matavao, Rey Lee-Lo, JJ Taulagi.