Ford and Farrell to start against Ireland

By Sports Desk August 22, 2019

Owen Farrell and George Ford will start while Mako Vunipola has been named among the replacements for England's Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Ireland.

Captain Farrell will shift to inside centre and make up a midfield pairing with Manu Tuilagi to accommodate fly-half Ford at Twickenham on Saturday.

Farrell and Ford will be in the same starting line-up for the first time in over a year in England's last match before flying out for the tournament in Japan.

Prop Vunipola is set to feature off the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury, while fit-again duo Tom Curry and Sam Underhill have been included in the back row.

Jonny May comes back in on the left wing, with Joe Cokanasiga moving to the other flank and Eddie Jones has gone with Jamie George, Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler in the front row.

Jones said: "The players have come back in a very good physical and mental state and we have had a good preparation this week. We purposefully made the week short looking ahead to the World Cup where this might happen beyond our control.
 
"It is the third of four games for us and come September 8, when we get on the plane, we want to be ready to go. This is another step forward for us.
 
"This weekend we will be looking to gain more game fitness and testing different sorts of game strategies. We have a specific way of how we want to play and the focus is very much on ourselves."

 

England: Elliot Daly, Joe Cokanasiga, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements:  Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Mark Wilson, Willi Heinz, Piers Francis, Jonathan Joseph.

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    England have earned the right to be considered among the favourites for the Rugby World Cup, according to Lawrence Dallaglio.

    Eddie Jones' side, along with top-ranked Ireland, Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales and Rugby Championship winners South Africa, have been tipped as the most likely sides to challenge holders New Zealand in Japan.

    England crashed out of their home World Cup at the first hurdle in 2015 but will aim to make amends this time around.

    They start their campaign against Tonga on Sunday, before facing the United States, Argentina and France, with Jones' men having lost just twice – both times against Wales – in 2019.

    Dallaglio lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003 and sees no reason why England cannot go on to claim rugby's top prize once more.

    "They've set the bar high," the former England captain told Omnisport, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

    "There's always expectation with England in any sport, particularly rugby. We've got a history in rugby of doing well and I think they've earned that right quite frankly.

    "I think the progression under Jones has been there right the way from 2015 when he declared he didn't feel we had enough world-class players.

    "But I think on that journey over the last four years, you look at the team now and it's packed full of top-class international rugby players who have won Grand Slams, they've won the title a few times and domestic and European honours. So I think we can rightly go into this World Cup in Japan cautiously optimistic.

    "They know they are capable of beating any of the sides in the world as they showed in Dublin in the Six Nations, as they showed in the first half against New Zealand and as they've shown in games more recently against Ireland.

    "We're contenders, we're challengers and New Zealand are the team to beat. But we've got a chance."

    Pressed on what else England need to do to prove their credentials, Dallaglio conceded a World Cup triumph may be required.

    "How do you measure success in a side? It's what you win, tangibly," he added.

    "This England team have a won a couple of Slams, they've equalled the world record for international victories under Jones, so I think the one thing they need to do is win a World Cup.

    "To do that away from home would be some achievement. I'm really excited about their prospects, I'm looking forward to it. It's wide open."

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: England v Tonga Rugby World Cup 2019: England v Tonga

    Eddie Jones stressed the importance of England getting their tactics spot on against a "ferocious" Tonga outfit in their Rugby World Cup opener on Sunday.

    After a group-stage exit at the last World Cup, England go into their tournament bow in Sapporo expected to be among the top challengers to holders New Zealand this time around.

    The 2003 champions won three of their four warm-up matches after coming second in the Six Nations and will contest a competitive Pool C that contains Argentina, France and United States as well as their initial opponents.

    "The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga," head coach Jones said ahead of the match.

    "We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well. Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion. 

    "They are a side if they get a bit of momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu. We will need to be at our best.

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    George Ford will start at fly-half for England, with Owen Farrell captain at inside centre. Joe Marler is at loose-head prop with Mako Vunipola out.

    Billy Vunipola, though, will line up against Tonga 20 years after his father and uncle represented the Pacific islanders against England in a World Cup contest.

    This will be the third meeting between the teams, with the previous two – both at World Cups – having been won by England in convincing fashion with a combined score of 137-30.

    England are looking for a seventh straight win in a Rugby World Cup opener and have not lost one since a defeat to New Zealand back in 1991.

    The omens do not look great for Tonga, who have won only three of their last 10 World Cup encounters and come into the event with just one win from their last seven Test outings.

    Distinguished former Australia international Kefu leads a squad that retains only four of the 23 players who lined up in their last World Cup match against New Zealand in 2015.

    One of that quartet is Kurt Morath, the country's all-time leading points scorer with 340 and one of seven English-based players in the team. 

    Key front-rower and the heaviest player in World Cup history, Ben Tameifuna, returns to the XV after being rested from a chastening 92-7 loss to the All Blacks two weeks ago.
     

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    England – Ben Youngs 

    Ben Youngs, 30, will earn his 90th cap and become the first scrum-half to play in three World Cups for England.

    His experience will be vital with England naming a XV that is their second-youngest ever at a World cup, including flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill. Youngs scored a try in his last Test outing against Italy this month.

    Tonga - Nasi Manu

    Nasi Manu has been named among Tonga's replacements and if he takes to the field it will be an emotional moment. The number eight did not play for club Benetton or his country in 2018 and could play his first Test since recovering from cancer, having undergone months of chemotherapy.

    "I had tears just then," he said after Tonga's welcome ceremony. "I don't think anybody knows just how much I have been through to get here. Not only the surgery and chemotherapy, but also the physical battle to get myself in good enough shape." 


    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - England have won only two of their last five games at Rugby World Cups, including a 60-3 triumph over Uruguay in their most recent fixture.

    - England have surpassed 40 points scored in a game on three occasions thus far in 2019; the last time they did so more times in a calendar year was in 2003 (7), including two instances in their triumphant 2003 campaign.

    - No player has scored more Test tries thus far in 2019 than England flyer Jonny May, whose six tries are level with German Kessler Lordon (Uruguay) and Joe Taufete'e (USA).

    - Siale Piutau's next appearance will be his 40th in Test rugby for Tonga, becoming just the fourth Tongan to reach the mark.

    - Kurt Morath (73) has scored more points at the Rugby World Cup than any other player for Tonga, including a 28-point haul during the group stage of the 2015 tournament.

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland v Scotland Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland v Scotland

    Joe Schmidt believes the enthusiasm and confidence of Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale will be "contagious" for Ireland in their opening Rugby World Cup clash with Scotland.

    The trio will start in the backs in Yokohama on Sunday, with Ireland having decided against risking experienced duo Keith Earls and Rob Kearney, who have been out with respective calf and thigh injuries.

    Kearney's club-mate Robbie Henshaw will also miss out, though the three players are in contention to return against hosts Japan in Ireland's second Pool A match.

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    "Their enthusiasm is something that's contagious, their ability to get themselves into the game," Schmidt said.

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    Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, meanwhile, is buoyed by the experience his side will be able to call on for what is just the second World Cup meeting between the teams.

    "I have seen the way they have trained and acted over the last few days," he said. "We have had two of our best ever training sessions, so as a coach, you get excited.

    "I also see the experience we have in our squad and that counts for a lot in big games. This will be the first time that this team have all been fit and available. We are missing two or three players but to get a squad that has this experience for such a big game is a real bonus.

    "Experience is important. Experience with form - recent form - and really good physical shape makes it even more valuable, and that is what we have with this group this weekend."

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    Ireland – Jacob Stockdale

    Having been entrusted to start, World Cup debutant Stockdale will be eager to make his mark.

    The 23-year-old gained the most metres – 395 in total – of any player in the 2019 Six Nations, while also beating 23 defenders, more than any other player in the competition.

    Scotland – Greig Laidlaw

    If Scotland are to claim a positive result, their kicking game will likely be key, making scrum-half Laidlaw their main man for this one.

    Laidlaw is on 695 points in total in Tests, with only Chris Paterson ahead of him in the Scottish record books.

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - Ireland have won six of their last seven games against Scotland, including their last two on the bounce.

    - Scotland have opened each of their last four men's Rugby World Cup campaigns with a win, including a 45-10 triumph over this year's hosts Japan in the 2015 edition.

    - The only previous World Cup encounter between Ireland and Scotland ended in a 24-15 win for the latter side in October 1991.

    - Ireland have won the opening match of their last five men's Rugby World Cup tournaments, having lost their opening game at two of the three editions before this run.

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