England replace Manu Tuilagi with Chris Ashton for South Africa Test

Chris Ashton will replace the injured Manu Tuilagi on England’s bench for the first autumn international against South Africa on Saturday.

The Leicester centre suffered a minor groin strain in training and will miss the Twickenham date, although he could be back in training as early as Sunday ahead of next week’s clash with New Zealand.

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England opted to start with Ben Te’o and Henry Slade at centre against the Springboks, with Tuilagi beating out Sale Sharks winger Ashton for a spot among the finishers.

The injury puts Ashton back in line for his first England appearance since 2014, which included a spell in France with Toulon.

Tuilagi’s absence from the England squad – he has only played a handful of minutes in four years – has often come because of more significant groin issues.

Scrum coach Neal Hatley said: “Manu’s disappointed. He desperately wanted to play for England again.

“It’s just a small strain and he’ll back training with us on Sunday. He’d put a good run in with his club, but he’s buoyed by the fact that he’ll be back in to prepare for New Zealand next weekend.”

Ashton provides back-up for Jonny May and Jack Nowell, who were preferred on the wing when Eddie Jones named his XV on Thursday morning.

Updated England squad: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (co-capt), 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Dylan Hartley (co-capt), 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 6 Brad Shields, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Mark Wilson.

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Chris Ashton.

#Followtherose this autumn with all of England’s Tests live on Sky Sports throughout November. The action starts on Saturday, November 3 against South Africa before clashes against New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

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