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England flank out of RWC as Farrell moves to midfield

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: England captain Owen Farrell said on Thursday he was on the same page as flyhalf George Ford after they were named to start this weekend’s World Cup game against Samoa.

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Farrell moves from fly-half in 14 changes from the win over Chile on September 23 with Ford wearing the No.10 for Saturday’s game in Lille.

It will be the first time the childhood friends have started a Test together since March 2021.

“I’m obviously pretty close to George anyway. We speak about everything rugby-wise regardless of what the team is,” Farrell told reporters.

“We’re on the same page. We’ve kicked on since we’ve last played together, so hopefully we can show that on the weekend,” the 32-year-old added.

England will have to do without flank Jack Willis, who has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with a neck issue.

“He suffered an injury in the Test match against Chile,” head coach Steve Borthwick said.

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“Jack has left the squad and his replacement will be announced in due course.

“The injury will be a few weeks but the timescales we’re operating means he will be replaced in the 23,” he added

There is no place in the matchday squad for wing Henry Arundell, who scored five tries against Chile.

Joe Marchand moves from midfield to the wing with Jonny May in the No.11 shirt.

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“Henry’s a wonderful player. He played tremendously well against Chile,” Borthwick said.

“It’s another sign of what great talent we have. I have this great group of players who all train to ensure to get the team right for this weekend,” he added.

Borthwick’s side have already reached the quarterfinals having beaten Chile, Argentina and Japan.

The England coach refused to look further ahead than the game at Stade-Pierre Mauroy, with a quarterfinal against Fiji or Wales on the horizon on the weekend of October 14-15.

“This press conference is for Samoa on Saturday,” Borthwick said.

“We’re playing against a strong Samoa Saturday and have picked a team to get a result we want against Samoa on Saturday,” he added.

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Joe Marchant, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 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 Marcus Smith, 23 Ollie Lawrence.

Date: Saturday, October 7
Venue: Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
Kick-off: 17.45 (15.45 GMT; 16.45 UK & Ireland time; 04.45 Sunday, October 8 WST)
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

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