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Borthwick names England team with Smith at No10, Farrell dropped

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has named his England team to host France this Saturday, making one changes from the win over Wales – the dramatic selection of Marcus Smith at No10 and the benching of skipper Owen Farrell.


Coming away from the Principality Stadium on February 25, no one would have imagined the head coach shaking things up at out-half as Smith had played less than 30 seconds in a token appearance that came with that 20-10 round three Guinness Six Nations win already sealed.

Smith was then omitted from last week’s training squad in Brighton with George Ford picked instead.

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However, he went away to enjoy a man of the match performance for Harlequins in the Gallagher Premiership thrashing of Exeter at Twickenham and that display has now resulted in England boss Borthwick taking the huge decision to bench his skipper Farrell and start Smith.

It is the only change in an XV that will now be skippered by Ellis Genge. David Ribbans has been chosen on the bench as the replacement for the injured Courtney Lawes.


Borthwick said: “The players selected to face our visitors are a reflection of what I see to be the right balance of personnel for the challenge we face in this game. Marcus Smith starts at fly-half and Dave Ribbans returns to the match day 23.


“Congratulations to Ellis Genge, who will captain the side for the first time. Ellis will lead from the front with the sort of dedication and spirit that now rightly typifies this England team.”

Borthwick named a 36-strong squad last Sunday that was reduced to 27 on Tuesday. The four players not named in the match day 23 to face the French are forwards Ben Earl and Nick Isiekwe, along with backs Joe Marchant and the suspended Manu Tuilagi.

England team (vs France, Saturday – 4:45pm)
15. Freddie Steward
14. Max Malins
13. Henry Slade
12. Ollie Lawrence
11. Anthony Watson
10. Marcus Smith
9. Jack van Poortvliet
1. Ellis Genge (C)
2. Jamie George
3. Kyle Sinckler
4. Maro Itoje
5. Ollie Chessum
6. Lewis Ludlam
7. Jack Willis
8. Alex Dombrandt

16. Jack Walker
17. Mako Vunipola
18. Dan Cole
19. David Ribbans
20. Ben Curry
21. Alex Mitchell
22. Owen Farrell
23. Henry Arundell



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