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At last we get to see if England wing Ruaridh McConnochie can translate Sevens potency into XVs productivity

Ruaridh McConnochie scores a try for England Sevens 
Ruaridh McConnochie was a proven try-scorer for England Sevens Credit: getty images

The slow build towards the Rugby World Cup continues, England tinkering with their side as they head to Cardiff rather than approaching the Welsh capital with snorting nostrils and thunder in every stride as they usually might in a Six Nations match.

That this is a warm-up strategy, with peaking in Japan on September 22 for the opening game against Tonga in Sapporo the aim, will matter little to Bath wing Ruaridh McConnochie, who makes his Test debut only a short time after he was scratching around for a club contract following an Olympic silver medal-winning performance in the Sevens.

Such days do not pass by for many and McConnochie is sure to treasure his experience at the Principality Stadium on Saturday. The 27 year-old is one of the bolters in the World Cup squad and we shall see if he can translate raw talent into productive output, full of enthusiasm, intelligence and potency. If he can do that, then great things lie ahead. On the other hand...     

There are three changes to the starting XV (as per Wales) with further changes on the bench where Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler make their first appearance in the matchday 23.

In Farrell’s front-line absence, George Ford again leads the side looking to show once again after his sharp-eyed performance in the 33-19 over Wales last Sunday was not a one-off and that he has the wit and presence to command the stage in Japan were anything to befall Farrell.

Another of those being gradually introduced to the matchday occasion is Saracens’ lock Maro Itoje, who starts in the second row, with Courtney Lawes dropping to the back row. Lewis Ludlam starts at openside.

England appear to have injury niggles in the back row with opensides Tom Curry (shoulder) and Sam Underhill (toe) both nursing problems. Curiously, Mark Wilson is yet to feature. 

There is also an odd-looking double-banking of hookers on the bench with Jack Singleton named as well as George. Singleton saw one minute of action last weekend, packing down in the back row, and looks set to act as cover there again.

Quite why Exeter flanker Matt Kvesic was called into the squad earlier in the week and not given an outing is unclear at this stage.