George Ford and Owen Farrell both start for England against Samoa

By Sports Desk October 05, 2023

England have reunited playmakers George Ford and Owen Farrell in their backline for Saturday’s final World Cup group match against Samoa in Lille.

They start together for the first time since the 2021 Six Nations as Steve Borthwick revives the creative axis that has excelled for England in the past as he assesses his options for the quarter-final.

Ford starts at fly-half having produced man-of-the-match displays against Argentina and Japan while Farrell shifts to inside centre to accommodate his rival for the 10 jersey.

Farrell needs two more points to become England’s highest scorer of all time, eclipsing the mark of 1,179 set by Jonny Wilkinson.

Manu Tuilagi is picked at 13 to provide a ball-carrying threat in what will be a special occasion for the Sale powerhouse, who faces the nation of his birth for the first time.

Joe Marchant is squeezed out of the midfield but finds a home on to the right wing, meaning there is no place for Henry Arundell despite his five-try haul against Chile.

Arundell drops out of the 23 altogether, as does Elliot Daly with Jonny May winning the race to start on the other wing as part of a back three that sees Freddie Steward replace Marcus Smith.

The urge to give Smith another run at full-back has been resisted but the rapid Harlequins ringmaster is poised to complete another cameo off the bench at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

England are at full strength against Samoa and evidence of Ben Earl’s rise as a force on the Test stage is seen in his selection at number eight ahead of Billy Vunipola, who features on the bench.

Tom Curry is restored at openside after playing just 179 seconds against Argentina, at which point he was sent off for a dangerous tackle that resulted in a two-match ban which he completed against Chile.

A surprise pick in the front row sees Dan Cole preferred ahead of Kyle Sinckler at tighthead prop.

England qualified for the quarter-finals as Pool D winners on September 28 when Japan beat Samoa, allowing them to advance to a knockout appointment with likely opponents Fiji despite having a match to spare.

Borthwick said: “Whilst we are of course pleased with our results and qualification into the pool stages, we want to continue our improvement with a positive performance against a difficult and in-form Samoa team.

“Samoa are renowned for their physicality and this last game in the pool stages will be an excellent test for us as we continue in our World Cup journey.”

Related items

  • Wales forward Mackenzie Martin hopes to be a role model for the Ely community Wales forward Mackenzie Martin hopes to be a role model for the Ely community

    Mackenzie Martin hopes he can be a “trailblazer” to inspire young people in Cardiff’s Ely community after making his Wales debut following just nine games of professional rugby.

    The 20-year-old featured as a replacement in Wales’ 31-7 Guinness Six Nations defeat against Ireland.

    Ely, a western Cardiff suburb, has not always enjoyed positive headlines and was the scene of major riots in 1991 and 2023.

    Martin grew up on the estate’s Grand Avenue, and he is the latest sportsman to emerge from an area that can boast a portfolio containing Ryan Giggs, Steve Robinson and his fellow boxer Nicky Piper.

    “I hope I can be a trailblazer,” Cardiff back-row forward Martin said. “I hope the kids are going to look up to me.

    “When I went down there the other week, even before I made my debut, there were a good few of them copying my haircut.

    “They came up to me and were saying ‘I’ve got the same hair as you’ and that type of thing. All theirs looked better than mine, so I was a bit jealous!

    “Growing up, it wasn’t obviously the easiest, as anybody can imagine, but my family has always been great and I have learnt from them.

    “I was always going to work hard because I think my dad is the hardest worker I know. It doesn’t matter where you come from, you can still make something of yourself.

    “My dad worked in warehouses, he has delivered milk, he has done loads of things. He has always been on the go, so that gives me the inspiration to keep working hard.”

    Martin has a deep religious faith, and he added: “Everybody always thinks that rugby – not saved me – but that rugby put me on the right path. But it was God that helped me do that.

    “God put that opportunity into my life, so that is how strong my faith is and that is why I always say ‘all glory to God’ and stuff like that because I wouldn’t have had the opportunities without him.”

    Martin only made his professional debut in November 2023, but he has joined Cardiff team-mates Cameron Winnett and Alex Mann as exciting Six Nations newcomers.

    Such was Martin’s impact off the bench in Dublin that it would be no surprise if he is promoted to a starting place against France on Sunday week.

    And he will continue to be inspired by a player he describes as “the man” – 104 times-capped Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau.

    “Me and my dad always watched Wales together, and every time we would see him (Faletau) my dad would say ‘he is amazing’,” Martin said.

    “When I transitioned to the back-row when I was about 16 I was always just trying to follow in his footsteps and how he played the game.

    “Obviously, we are a little bit different as players, but it is still the way he works around the field and the way he carries himself. That was the inspiration.

    “He is one of the best number eights in the world – well, for me the best number eight in the world – so if I can even replicate that a little bit I would be doing myself proud.”

  • Mauricio Pochettino preaches patience with Reece James despite England hopes Mauricio Pochettino preaches patience with Reece James despite England hopes

    Mauricio Pochettino insists Reece James will not be rushed back from the hamstring injury that has disrupted his season, even if a delayed return costs him a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad.

    The club captain has made just eight Premier League appearances this campaign and is at risk of missing out on a second international tournament in as many years, having been ruled out of the 2022 World Cup with a knee problem.

    He featured only 16 times in the league last season when a combination of knee and hamstring injuries kept him on the sidelines for club and country.

    And after being forced off during August’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool he has had even worse luck this term.

    The 24-year-old, who has only once in his Chelsea career reached 30 league appearances in a season, teased on social media this week that “the comeback is coming” and has returned to the training pitch, albeit working separately from his team-mates.

    However, with a history of recurring fitness problems, Pochettino was understandably cautious about reintroducing him and was adamant he would not be hurried back for the sake of his international place.

    “I cannot say the date of when it’s possible,” said the Argentinian. “His target and our target is for him to be fit and feel happy and well. Then we’ll see about the possibility of going to the Euros or not, or to be ready for next season or to play before we finish this season.

    “The most important thing now is to build his confidence, his physical condition, to recover all the good feelings.

    “The target is not to try and play the last five games or in the Euros or pre-season. The target is to build again his confidence and to feel strong, then to start to play when he feels strong and can deal again with the competition.”

    Despite establishing himself as a key figure for Chelsea when fit, James has so far made just a single major tournament appearance, starting for Gareth Southgate’s side in a goalless draw with Scotland at Euro 2020.

    He looked set to be a member of the squad in Qatar until a knee injury in a Champions League match against AC Milan scuppered his chances.

    “I didn’t speak with (Southgate),” said Pochettino. “But we have spoken people involved in (the FA), medical, performance people.

    “It’s not ‘now I can go on the pitch, I can play’. It’s to be sure we can go to the competition and he can feel strong and can forget all that has happened in the past.”

    James will be one of seven players unavailable to Pochettino at Brentford on Saturday.

    Injures have severely disrupted the seasons of Christopher Nkunku, Romeo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu and Carney Chukwuemeka, whilst Wesley Fofana is likely to be forced to miss the entire campaign.

    The manager reiterated his frustration at the impact injuries have had on his first season in charge.

    “When you start the season, you put in your head the idea of the potential of the squad,” he said. “When you think about Nkunku, Reece, (Ben) Chilwell or Fofana, Lavia, (Moises) Caicedo, you imagine the players in the best place, with all their potential.

    “Then when the circumstances happen, of course it’s about translating the reality. If you go back and say ‘no, you said we can play to win the Premier League’ – when you see the possibility that you have with the squad, then of course.

    “But then with the circumstance, the reality, we’ve had 10, 12 players every single week out. That will affect the performance of the team.”

  • Wales great JPR Williams remembered as rugby ‘revolutionary’ and family man Wales great JPR Williams remembered as rugby ‘revolutionary’ and family man

    JPR Williams’ life as a rugby “revolutionary” and family man was remembered at a memorial service for the former Wales and British Lions full-back.

    Williams died in January at the age of 74 and former team-mates from Welsh rugby’s golden 1970s era were among those who gathered at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff to celebrate his life on St David’s Day.

    The tough-as-teak Williams gained a worldwide reputation for his fearless defensive play, rock-solid safety under a high ball and attacking prowess.

    Williams won seven Five Nations titles, six Triple Crowns and three Grand Slams as Wales dominated the 1970s and starred on two victorious Lions tours, to New Zealand in 1971 – the only time they have won there – and in South Africa, three years later.

    “On the field he was a revolutionary,” said John Taylor, a former London Welsh and Wales team-mate and Williams’ best man when he married wife Priscilla.

    “JPR ripped up the rule book from the start. Wales went from 1934 to 1967 without a try from a full-back until Keith Jarrett scored there and he was really a centre.

    “JPR scored six, five against England. He was the scourge of the men in white and the most competitive animal I’ve ever met.

    “Nobody created the extra man better than he did.”

    Williams’ love of music, he was a boy soprano – with his young voice played over a loud speaker in the Cathedral – before developing in to a rich baritone, was reflected during the service.

    There were five hymns and a piece of reflection from the Bridgend Tabernacle Choir, of which Williams was a member and where he played the organ.

    Williams, an orthopaedic surgeon who had studied at St Mary’s Hospital in London, also played the piano and the violin and the service concluded with a stirring rendition of the Welsh National Anthem, ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’.

    Williams’ four children – Lauren, Annelise, Francine and Peter – read during a service where their father’s sporting prowess was recalled.

    From 55 Wales caps – a world record upon his retirement in 1981 – to Lions tours; from winning a British junior competition at the All England Club, Wimbledon by beating former Great Britain Davis Cup captain David Lloyd to representing Wales’ senior squash team.

    With his flowing long hair, sideburns and socks rolled down, Williams was an instantly-recognisable figure on the rugby field and was still playing for village team Tondu well into his 50s.

    “I spent so much of my career on the field with JPR,” said Wales and Lions colleague Sir Gareth Edwards.

    “He was a tremendous innovator and changed the full-back position virtually overnight.

    “He would carry the ball back like a guided missile and had so many ways to beat the challenge of a defender.

    “Whenever there were fisticuffs, he would run up and say ‘wait for me’. Phil (Bennett) and I would be running the other way.

    “He was fearless, resilient and competitive – the ultimate warrior.”

    Welsh Rugby Union president Terry Cobner described his former team-mate as “an icon and role model”, saying he had inspired a generation of youngsters “not only in Wales but throughout the world”.

    Former Wales and Lions centre John Devereux recalled the impact Williams had on his local team Bridgend, both as a player and club president in later life.

    Paying tribute at the service, journalist Peter Jackson said: “JPR – ‘the three most famous initials in the history of sport – initials that will forever evoke memories of glory days.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.