Marcus Smith handed start at full-back for revamped England against Chile… as Owen Farrell is recalled at fly-half following his ban
Marcus Smith will start at full-back here on Saturday in a new-look England side led by Owen Farrell, who has been recalled at number 10 after his suspension for a high tackle.
As expected, Steve Borthwick has opted to rotate his playmakers, with Smith wearing 15 for the first time, having made some encouraging cameo appearances off the bench in that previously unknown position, during last month’s warm-ups and in the early World Cup victories. over Argentina and Japan.
Farrell’s return against minnows Chile was inevitable as the captain needs game time after serving his four-match ban and will operate at fly-half, with George Ford shifting to the bench.
There is every chance that the tried and tested 10-12 alliance of Ford and Farrell will come together by the time England complete their final Pool D match, allowing them to experiment as the result is a foregone conclusion. But it will be intriguing to see how Smith fares at full-back from the start and whether he can stay on the pitch once Ford is brought in, or whether he automatically makes way for the experienced Sale conductor.
Borthwick has fully utilized his squad for this meeting with South American opponents who have reached their first World Cup. Supporters desperate for an outbreak of English flair will be heartened by the inclusion of Racing 92 wing sensation Henry Arundell. His powerful presence in the back three, alongside Smith, means the national team should not be short of lethal attacking options if – as expected – their pack gains the upper hand up front.
Marcus Smith will start in an unknown back role in a new-look England squad against Chile
Head coach Steve Borthwick has communicated the changes for England’s match against the Minnows
Captain Owen Farrell returns at fly-half for England after completing his four-match ban
Elliot Daly remains in the starting XV but has been shifted from wing to outside centre, in a sign of his usefulness, to form a new midfield partnership with Ollie Lawrence. Danny Care will join forces with Farrell at centre-back and the experienced Harlequin will be tasked with bringing the kind of energy, purpose and pace that Alex Mitchell has provided.
Up front, Bevan Rodd will enjoy his first involvement in the tournament at loosehead prop, with fellow rookie Theo Dan at hooker and Kyle Sinckler gaining more experience at tighthead, having also started against Japan in Nice last Sunday. After enduring a difficult summer, Bristol’s Lion will be desperate to regain their unassailable status as the country’s number three by showcasing the results of so much steady work behind the scenes.
It’s unusual to see an England line-up without Maro Itoje in it, but it’s fully rested, with David Ribbans and George Martin in the second row and Ollie Chessum second on the bench this week. In the back row, Billy Vunipola will be hoping to build momentum with more vital game time at number 8 and Jack Willis can showcase his skills in the open side as Tom Curry completes his ban for high tackles.
England have a huge number of caps among their substitutes and plenty of dynamism and personal motivation with their XV ahead of a match in which they will confirm their qualification for the quarter-finals.
Borthwick will be hoping some of his men on a mission will perform well enough to pose glaring dilemmas for him next week, ahead of the group final against dangerous Samoa here in Lille on October 7.