England unleash Smith-Farrell combo against Australia
LONDON (AP) – England will trigger a new midfield focus in rugby test against fierce Australian rivals on Saturday after selecting Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell for the match at Twickenham.
Smith is widely regarded as the future star of England’s opening half and was selected at No.10 for his fourth cap. This pushed Farrell back into crosses, where he will start alongside Henry Slade, leading to coach Eddie Jones moving power runner Manu Tuilagi to the wing.
Jones wanted to start Smith and Farrell at 10-12 against Tonga last weekend, but Farrell was forced to take a possible false positive test for coronavirus, while Smith came off the bench in the second half and played well after going been limited to training by an unspecified leg injury. Tonga was routed 69-3 to start England’s fall campaign.
Slade and Tuilagi impressed in crosses and were therefore retained, albeit in a reshuffled rear division.
Lock Maro Itoje will make his 50th appearance for England as part of an unchanged field.
Mainstay Bevan Rodd, brought in as cover for Joe Marler after testing positive for COVID-19, and versatile back Raffi Quirke could make their England debut after being named to the bench.
England: Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Courtney Lawes, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Ellis Genge. Reserves: Jamie Blamire, Bevan Rodd, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Alex Dombrandt, Sam Simmonds, Raffi Quirke, Max Malins.
More AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports