England v Chile: Rugby World Cup – Marcus Smith starts at full-back as Owen Farrell returns

England v Chile: Rugby World Cup – Marcus Smith starts at full-back as Owen Farrell returns
Marcus Smith sidesteps while playing for England
Marcus Smith’s involvement at the Rugby World Cup has been limited to appearances off the bench in the 75th and 69th minute of wins against Argentina and Japan
Venue: Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille Date: Saturday, 23 September Kick-off: 16:45 BST
Coverage: Listen to BBC Radio 5 Live commentary and follow live text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Marcus Smith starts at full-back and captain Owen Farrell returns at 10 in an experimental, much-changed England side to face Chile on Saturday.

Smith impressed in the position after coming off the bench in recent weeks, including in the Pool D win over Japan.

Farrell appears for the first time at France 2023 after a four-match ban. George Ford is named as a replacement.

Ollie Lawrence, Henry Arundell and Max Malins also come in, with Billy Vunipola and Jack Willis in the pack.

Lawrence, named the Premiership’s player of the year in May after five tries in 12 appearances for Bath, is paired in midfield with Elliot Daly, who is one of only three players retained from the starting line-up that beat Japan.

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Wings Arundell and Malins will make their first appearances of the tournament, while prop Bevan Rodd and second row David Ribbans also earn their first Rugby World Cup minutes.

Hooker Theo Dan, second row George Martin and scrum-half Danny Care start for the first time in the campaign too.

Short presentational grey line

England: Smith; Arundell, Daly, Lawrence, Malins; Farrell, Care; Rodd, Dan, Sinckler, Ribbans, Martin, Ludlam, Willis, Vunipola.

Replacements: Walker, Marler, Stuart, Chessum, Earl, Youngs, Ford, Marchant

Short presentational grey line

Victory against Chile would put England on the brink of qualification after wins over Argentina and Japan.

“One of the many great things about the Rugby World Cup is that the tournament provides an excellent opportunity to play against teams that we rarely have a chance to see,” said head coach Steve Borthwick before the teams’ first meeting.

“It is for that reason that we are particularly looking forward to testing ourselves against Chile on Saturday.”

His side conclude their Pool D campaign against Samoa in a fortnight’s time before a potential quarter-final against Wales, Australia or Fiji.

With England expected to comfortably beat Chile, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, the performance of individual players, rather than the contest’s outcome, may become the main point of interest as the match goes on.

‘He just jumped at it’

A pre-tournament injury to versatile back-three operator Anthony Watson has deprived England of one full-back option, but few foresaw Smith, a specialist fly-half for Harlequins, emerging as an alternative.

With Daly and Malins deployed elsewhere in the line-up and first-choice Freddie Steward rested, Smith, 24, gets a chance to show he can turn some entertaining cameos into a genuine alternative for Borthwick.

“He just jumped at it,” England attack coach Richard Wigglesworth said earlier this week of Smith’s switch of roles.

“He’s trained there a fair bit and he’s been really impressive. It’s definitely something that you look at more and more because of his attitude to it and how positive he is with it – and then how he’s performed on the training field as well.”

England will hope Smith’s enthusiasm can make up for a lack of experience as this will be his first senior start at full-back for either

…. to be continued
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