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Four changes for England, including the return of a fit Tom Curry

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has named an England team to play Argentina in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday that has four changes from the XV ambushed by Fiji in their final Summer Nations Series match. It includes a return for the fit-again Tom Curry, but there is no selection for Kyle Sinckler.

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The English went down 22-30 at Twickenham on August 26 – their fifth loss in six matches – and their rookie Test-level head coach has reacted by making four alterations for their opening game in Pool D at Stade Velodrome.

Elliot Daly, who had been an injury doubt coming injury to the tournament following a bang to the knee versus Ireland on August 19, is named in place of Max Malins, with Jonny May switching from left to right wing.

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The other backline switch sees Joe Marchant, another try-scorer along with May versus the Fijians, getting promoted from the bench instead of Ollie Lawrence, who on this occasion will be a replacement.

In the pack, Jamie George is predictably named to start at hooker with rookie Theo Dan dropping to the bench where Jack Walker is excluded.

Team Form

Last 5 Games

2
Wins
2
1
Streak
3
11
Tries Scored
11
24
Points Difference
-32
2/5
First Try
1/5
2/5
First Points
2/5
1/5
Race To 10 Points
1/5

Then in the back row, Curry, who is the only player in the squad of 33 that England have at the World Cup not to have played a single Summer Six Nations Series minute, has been handed the openside berth, with Jack Willis missing out.

It means there are starts for the likes of May and Alex Mitchell, two players who weren’t included when the squad for the tournament was originally confirmed on August 7. There is also a start at tighthead for Dan Cole, with Sinckler not making the match day 23. Ben Earl also continues at No8

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George Martin, meanwhile, is the preferred second row replacement on this occasion instead of David Ribbans while Marcus Smith, who had been training at full-back in recent weeks following his try-scoring display as a sub against Fiji, is retained in the No22 shirt.

“With an excellent week of preparation in Le Touquet, the players are now looking forward to starting their Rugby World Cup campaign under the lights in Marseille on Saturday,” said Borthwick.

“After a number of impressive performances in the last 12 months by Argentina, we know that the first game in our pool will provide a stern test.

“This great tournament provides an excitingly special opportunity for our players, who I know, as ever, will be giving their all in front of our travelling support in the south of France.”

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It was 10 months ago when England last played Argentina, losing 29-30 in London at the start of their 2022 Autumn Nations Series. There are just five survivors from that XV in this Saturday’s starting team – Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje and Curry.

England flew into Marseille on Thursday afternoon after training earlier in the day at their northern Le Touquet-Paris-Plage base camp and they were greeted by a 30°C Mediterranean temperature with a 44 per cent humidity (come the local 9pm kick-off on Saturday, it is expected to be 24°C with a 60 per cent humidity).

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England (vs Argentina, Saturday – Marseille, 9pm (local time, 8pm BST)
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 26 caps)
14. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 73 caps)
13. Joe Marchant (Stade Francais, 19 caps)
12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 53 caps)
11. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 59 caps)
10. George Ford – vice-captain (Sale Sharks, 85 caps)
9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)
1. Ellis Genge – vice-captain (Bristol Bears, 52 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 79 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 102 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 70 caps)
5. Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 11 caps)
6. Courtney Lawes – captain (Northampton Saints, 100 caps)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 45 caps)
8. Ben Earl (Saracens, 18 caps)

Replacements:
16. Theo Dan (Saracens, 3 caps)
17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 82 caps)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 29 caps)
19. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps)
20. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 21 caps)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 90 caps)
22. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 24 caps)
23. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 14 caps)

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Comments

9 Comments
T
Tris 308 days ago

Suprised to see Mitchell. Real change of direction. There arent any people left out I am truely shocked about. Maybe Willis. But not excited but the team.

Cant see them troubling Argentina anywhere and not sure there is any player I would take over their Argentinean opposite number.

Front row, back row and scrum half I would say Argentina are better. I think England need to find another couple of gears or a lot of luck.

B
Brian 308 days ago

Why is Ben Earl on this team at all? Just find it incredible none of the 8s Borthwick played all year are on this team - why? Hope Argentina and Japan expose this team - England needs a total overhaul/rebuild

M
Mark 308 days ago

It's very difficult to understand on what criteria maro itoji keeps his place in the side!.
I haven't seen him have a significant impact on a game since the 2019 WC semi final.
The team as a whole is very difficult to get excited about tbh.
Mitchell is a positive addition, but the midfield looks ordinary and Steward is a donkey.
The full curates egg really.

A
Al 308 days ago

Love how England are smiling in the photos. Training that is. Come Saturday, they won't be smiling at all as they go down to Argentina!

f
finn 308 days ago

I'm surprised Cole is starting
I'm surprised Lawrence and Willis aren't

but its good to see Mitchell and May getting a shot after having initially been unfairly snubbed earlier on in the summer

R
Rob 308 days ago

Lads who's the 23rd player?? Don't think I've forgotten that shambolic Italy team article this morning (open the comments cowards). I get that youd want to pump this stuff out quickly but does anyone actually check these articles before they go up???

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