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England drop Ford for Farrell against Fiji

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: England head coach Steve Borthwick opted to hand Owen Farrell the flyhalf role against Fiji in the quarterfinals at Stade de Marseille on Sunday.

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Farrell will captain a starting XV with two changes to the side that defeated Samoa 18-17 in the final game of the pool stages in Lille last weekend.

In the front row, Ellis Genge – who is named as one of three vice-captains – starts at loosehead prop alongside Jamie George at hooker and Dan Cole at tighthead. Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum continue at lock with vice-captain Courtney Lawes on the blindside flank, Tom Curry on the openside and Ben Earl at No.8 to round off an unchanged pack.

In the halfback berths, Alex Mitchell partners Farrell as Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant combine in the centres.

In the back three, Elliot Daly returns to the starting XV on the left wing, Jonny May moves to the right and Marcus Smith is set to wear the 15 shirt.

The changes mean that Ford, who was named man of the match during England’s opening matches, drops to the bench.

Theo Dan, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, George Martin, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care and Ollie Lawrence complete the replacements.

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“The knockout stages of any Rugby World Cup are always full of excitement and keen anticipation for our supporters both at home and here in France. This will be no different. The players cannot wait for this Sunday’s quarter-final against Fiji,” said Borthwick.

“Everyone knows just what an unpredictably dangerous opposition Fiji can be. However, we have shown in the group stages how we can win games, and we will be calling on that experience and determination to ensure we carry on our journey.

“We are very much looking forward to returning to the special atmosphere of the Stade de Marseille, where we started our campaign back in September with a win against Argentina. I have said it before, but it is right that I say it again, our supporters contributed to a very special night on that occasion, and I have no doubt it will be another memorable evening this Sunday.”

England: 15 Marcus Smith, 14 Jonny May, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Martin, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Ollie Lawrence

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Date: Sunday, October 15
Venue: Stade de Marseille, Marseille
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT; 16.00 UK & Ireland time, 3.00 Monday, October 16 FJT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Pierre Brousset (France)
b: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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