Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s coverage of the England squad announcement ahead of their Pool D clash against Chile on Saturday.
Marcus Smith is set to make his first professional debut at fullback while Owen Farrell returns as captain at fly-half while head coach Steve Borthwick experiments with England’s backline in a bid to reinvigorate their attack in difficulty.
As reported by Telegraph Sport, with England facing a six-day turnaround following their 34-12 win over Japan on Sunday, Borthwick is expected to take the opportunity to rest and rotate his team with the winger Henry Arundell and flanker Jack Willis also set to be handed over. their first starts of the tournament.
George Ford, who scored 41 points in England’s wins over Argentina and Japan, is expected to be on the bench while stand-in captain Courtney Lawes will be rested.
Farrell is expected to return after not playing for England since being sent off against Wales in a World Cup warm-up match on August 12. Yet Borthwick’s most telling selection is that of Smith at full-back.
As Telegraph Sport first reported, England first hatched a plan to move Smith from fly-half in their warm-up matches. The decision to go ahead with that plan will excite and intrigue England fans in equal measure, particularly with Farrell replacing Ford at fly-half.
The combination of Farrell and Smith in a 10-15 axis is reminiscent of New Zealand combining Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett at flyhalf and full-back. While it may now seem like a powerful combination, the decision to remove Barrett from his primary position was initially criticized by All Blacks fans. England’s coaching staff will be hoping their own experience takes less time to come to fruition.
On Monday, attack coach Richard Wigglesworth admitted he was considering the possibility of combining the opening three, Ford, Farrell and Smith in the second half.
“It’s not unthinkable, but it depends on what’s around them,” Wigglesworth said. “If we have absolute runners around and this is their skill set, we want to upskill as many guides as possible to get a feel for it sooner and be able to execute things. »
With Smith in the 15 jersey, Freddie Steward is set to move to the bench for the first time in 28 Tests. Although the full-back was the victim of a draw against the Brave Blossoms in Nice last Saturday, his anticipated absence from the starting XV is purely tactical as Scrum coach Tom Harrison confirmed during the week that the team was in good health.
Manu Tuilagi is also expected to be rested, while second row David Ribbans should benefit from his first start in the tournament. Billy Vunipola, who is missing playing time after missing the opening match of the tournament due to suspension, is also expected to start.
Borthwick’s team announcement is expected to begin at 4:30 p.m. Stay tuned for all the latest reactions.
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