Farrell slides back to fly-half for England against Australia

Eng Team QF
Owen Farrell has been re-installed at fly-half for the biggest game of Eddie Jones’ tenure as England face Australia in their World Cup quarter-final.

Owen Farrell has been re-installed at fly-half for the biggest game of Eddie Jones’ tenure as England face Australia in their World Cup quarter-final.

Farrell pulled the strings at No.10 for the entirety of this year’s Guinness Six Nations, but this summer and in the World Cup pool stages in Japan, Farrell has lined up at inside centre with Ford the man inside him.

Ford’s form has been so impressive this year, but for the knockout game in Oita, the Leicester Tiger drops to the bench as Henry Slade returns to fitness and the No.13 jersey with Manu Tuilagi at inside centre.

That is the big talking point from an England team that shows three changes in all from the side that downed Argentina a fortnight ago.

Jones said: “George Ford will finish the game for us. We just feel the start of the game is going to be fairly brutal and we feel having Owen at 10 will serve the team’s best interests.

“Australia are a clever team, they will have some specific attacking strategies to play against us so we need to have a great situational awareness.

Elsewhere, Mako Vunipola returns to start at loosehead prop with Joe Marler, another impressive England performer out here in Japan, also relegated to the bench.

And the hard-hitting Courtney Lawes has also earned his second start of the tournament alongside Maro Itoje in the second row as George Kruis slides to the replacements.

Elliot Daly continues at full-back with Anthony Watson on the right wing and Jonny May on the left, the latter set to win his 50th cap for his country on Saturday in Oita.

On May reaching his half century for England, Jones added: “It is a great achievement and an honour for him and his family. Everyone in the team is really pleased for him. I think this World Cup has really shown how hard he has worked at his game.

“He has come back from a significant knee injury to be close to the fastest winger, if not the fastest winger in the world, and has the ability to score tries from any situation.”

Kyle Sinckler and Jamie George join Vunipola in the front row while Billy Vunipola is fit to start at No.8 after his ankle injury with Sam Underhill and Tom Curry the flankers either side of him.

Jones added: “Once you get to the quarter-finals it’s about having the right mindset. We know how well we can play, it’s about us playing to our strengths and trying to take away from what Australia want.”

The bench is rounded out by Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz and Jonathan Joseph.

England starting XV to face Australia: 15 Elliot Daly (Saracens, 36 caps) 14 Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 39 caps) 13 Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 23 caps) 12 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 37 caps) 11 Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 49 caps) 10 Owen Farrell (Saracens, 76 caps) (c) 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 92 caps)

1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 55 caps) 2 Jamie George (Saracens, 42 caps) 3 Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 28 caps) 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens, 31 caps) 5 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 78 caps) 6 Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 16 caps) 7 Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 12 caps) 8 Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 48 caps)

Replacements 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps) 17 Joe Marler (Harlequins, 65 caps) 18 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 92 caps) 19 George Kruis (Saracens, 38 caps) 20 Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 5 caps) 21 Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 7 caps) 22 George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 62 caps) 23 Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 44 caps)