England's Heinz, McConnochie to make debuts as Wales name strong side

Gloucester scrum-half Willi Heinz has also been named England's vice-captain for his international debut against Wales on Sunday. Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

England have handed debuts to scrum-half Willi Heinz and winger Ruaridh McConnochie for their opening Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Wales at Twickenham on Sunday.

Wales have named a strong team, headlined by captain Alun Wyn Jones who will become the country's most capped rugby player when he plays in his 135th Test match.

The 33-year-old lock will lead a strong selection as Wales coach Warren Gatland named an unchanged backline from the side that clinched the Grand Slam against Ireland in March for the first of back-to-back World Cup warm-up games.

England winger Anthony Watson will make his first Test appearance since March 2018 while hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie will make his first England start.

England coach Eddie Jones could also hand debuts to Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marchant and Jack Singleton, who have been named on the bench.

Jones' side play four games before flying out to Japan ahead of the Sept. 20 tournament start date.

"We have completed our four weeks of pre-season training and now we have moved into four weeks of warm up games ahead of the Rugby World Cup," Jones said in a statement.

"Our focus has now changed to match preparation and fitness and creating a game that will stand up to the rigours of the tournament where we have to win seven games in seven weeks.

"Our team selection and tactics in our next four games are all about developing a team capable of winning in Japan, and our overarching target of being ready when we get on the plane on the 8th of September to win the World Cup."

England play Wales again in Cardiff on Aug. 17 before two more warm-up matches against Ireland and Italy in London and Newcastle, respectively.

"The squad are looking forward to this weekend and getting a game under their belt after a really intense preparation period," Gatland said on Friday.

"We have picked a strong looking team and we are looking forward to seeing how they kick on after a successful couple of campaigns.

"These matches are really important leading into the Rugby World Cup, to ensure that both the players are ready for the tournament but also to give players opportunity to put their hands up for selection.

"There is a balance with selection, a needed to mix continuity from what we have achieved and opportunity and we will look to do that over the next couple of weeks."

Information from Reuters contributed to this report

England XV team to face Wales:

15. Elliot Daly, 14. Ruaridh McConnochie, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Piers Francis, 11. Anthony Watson, 10. George Ford (captain), 9. Willi Heinz, 1. Ellis Genge, 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Joe Launchbury, 5.Charlie Ewels, 6. Tom Curry, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Billy Vunipola

Replacements: 16. Jack Singleton, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Harry Williams, 19. George Kruis, 20. Lewis Ludlam, 21. Ben Youngs, 22. Joe Marchant, 23. Joe Cokanasiga

Wales XV to face England:

15. Liam Williams, 14. George North, 13. Jonathan Davies, 12. Hadleigh Parkes,11. Josh Adams, 10. Gareth Anscombe, 9. Gareth Davies, 1. Nicky Smith, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Tomas Francis, 4. Adam Beard, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 6. Aaron Wainwright, 7. Justin Tipuric, 8. Ross Moriarty

Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Wyn Jones, 18. Dillon Lewis, 19. Jake Ball, 20. Aaron Shingler, 21. Tomos Williams, 22. Dan Biggar, 23. Owen Watkin.