Anthony Watson runs around Scotland's Kyle Steyn
Anthony Watson’s last England start came against Ireland in March 2021
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 25 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, S4C, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Sport website & app

Anthony Watson will make his first England start for almost two years in Saturday’s Six Nations match in Wales.

Leicester’s Watson replaces the injured Ollie Hassell-Collins on the wing in the only change to the starting XV that beat Italy in round two.

Vice-captain Courtney Lawes is set for his first England appearance since July having been named on the bench.

Ben Curry is also a replacement after being called into the squad when brother Tom was injured.

With the experienced Jonny May and Jack Nowell left out of new head coach Steve Borthwick’s original Six Nations squad, Hassell-Collins led the way for a new generation to shine.

But instead of giving Harlequins’ Cadan Murley, 23, a chance, Borthwick has favoured the perhaps more reliable 28-year-old Watson as Max Malins continues on the other wing after impressing in the opening rounds.

Former captain Lawes, 34, is back after a string of injuries including concussion as well as neck, glute and calf issues that meant he missed the narrow opening defeat by Scotland and victory against Italy.

With Tom Curry out for the rest of the tournament because of a hamstring injury, Borthwick retains a back row of Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis and Alex Dombrandt.

In the backline, captain Owen Farrell once again starts at fly-half as Marcus Smith is the replacement number ten.

England – who have not won in Cardiff since 2017 – are third in the Six Nations table, while winless Wales are sixth.

Doubts over whether the match would go ahead were dispelled on Wednesday when Welsh players decided against strike action after reaching an agreement with their union.

Head coach Borthwick said: “Wales v England in Cardiff is one of the iconic rugby fixtures, steeped in history and always full of passion.

“We know the Principality Stadium crowd will be in full voice and we will have to be at our very best to repeat the success we had in the last round against Italy.

“I am delighted to have welcomed Courtney Lawes back to the squad after injury. His quality and experience has contributed to a focused training week, marked by the sort of competition and intensity we expect.”

England ‘haven’t got same experience level’

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named an experimental backline featuring debutant centre Mason Grady and fly-half Owen Williams.

But there is much more experience in a pack that includes captain Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau and Justin Tipuric.

With relative newcomers Ollie Chessum, Jack Willis and Alex Dombrandt representing England, Borthwick told BBC Sport his team “haven’t got that same level of experience”.

“We’re at a different stage,” Borthwick added.

“I think we’re playing against a team that knows how to prepare for Test matches. We’ve got a load of young players who are desperate to do well.”

England: Steward; Malins, Slade, Lawrence, Watson; Farrell (capt), Van Poortvliet; Genge, George, Sinckler; Itoje, Chessum; Ludlam, Willis, Dombrandt.

Replacements: Walker, M Vunipola, Cole, Lawes, B Curry, Mitchell, M Smith, Arundell.

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