Starting role Heinz gets the nod for England in clash with USA
WILLI Heinz will start for England in their World Cup clash with the United States today (Thursday).
Heinz came off the bench in the closing stages of Sunday’s 35-3 win over Tonga in Sapporo.
University of Gloucestershire product Ruaridh Mcconnochie wins his second cap on the right wing with Elliot Daly continuing at full-back and Heinz getting the nod ahead of Ben Youngs
There are three survivors from the pack that started against Tonga in prop Joe Marler, flanker Tom Curry and number eight Billy Vunipola.
Openside flanker and ex-gloucester Academy man Sam Underhill drops out of the squad completely.
Coach Eddie Jones said: “The fourday turnaround is something we experimented with against Japan last autumn and so the players have had some experience of it.
“You have to make sure the two days before the game are exactly the same as you would normally have for any other game.
“What I see now is players handling it really well but the game on Thursday will be the litmus test.
“It is our best 23 and we have looked at some players that would benefit not playing in this game, so have kept them out of the 23.
“But it is a great opportunity for another set of players to do the team proud.”
“USA are a tough, physical team who are extremely well coached by Gary Gold. There are a number of players who our guys know really well and are a team we respect.”
Speaking before the Tonga game, Underhill owes a lot to his early rugby education in Gloucester.
The England star learnt his trade at Longlevens Rugby Club and was captain of the first team at Sir Thomas Rich’s School.
“All of the lads, every rugby player has played at an amateur or school level at some point,” Underhill told Gloucestershire Live.
“Football is a bit different because aged five you’re getting picked up and go into an academy. But rugby is such a grassroots game still.
“The atmosphere at your local club is not too dissimilar to what you would get at any other club, which is brilliant.
“We all owe so much to so many coaches, other players, teachers.
“If you win a World Cup then kids in the country start playing rugby. I’m sure there are a lot more Colombian cyclists following the Tour de France this year - that’s the power of sport.”
Underhill was seven when England won the World Cup in 2003 with Jonny Wilkinson’s extra-time drop goal against Australia in the final.
“I remember everyone going mad, I was in Manchester at my cousin’s house and everyone was really excited.
“I watched the game but I didn’t have a clue what was going on because I didn’t start playing rugby until four or five years later.
“I remember the 2007 World Cup the try that wasn’t given in the final that’s probably my first proper memory of the World Cup.”
Underhill was part of Gloucester’s Academy, making his debut when he was still a schoolboy before opting to study economics at Cardiff University but he did not imagine being at a World Cup four years later.
He spent two seasons at Ospreys where his performances caught the attention of England head coach Eddie Jones and then moved to Bath to be eligible for selection.
“I think the way most people get there is you work hard. Sport’s pretty fickle, you work hard, you get some good luck maybe some bad luck along the way, but if you keep working hard eventually good things will happen,” said Underhill.
Underhill recalled where he was during the last World Cup as England went out of their home tournament with a whimper in the pool stages.
“I would have been at The Taff or at the Woodmill pub,” said Underhill.
“I was in a black T-shirt. Mourning! We just zipped up our Barbour jackets!
“I followed England as a fan, but as a player I was a million miles away.
“Obviously I was thinking I would love to be there some day, but if I’d have said it (I’ll be there in 2019) people would certainly have laughed. I don’t think anyone else would have said it!”
Jake Polledri takes on Eugene Jantjies of Namibia
Willi Heinz kicks the ball during the win over Tonga at Sapporo Dome