Smith and Farrell start as eight changes made for Argentina Rugby World Cup clash

Marcus Smith will reprise his role at full-back for Friday’s bronze final against Argentina as one of eight changes to England’s starting XV from the heart-breaking semi-final loss to South Africa.

Freddie Steward, one of the stars of the defeat to the Springboks, shifts out to the wing to make way for Smith, with Henry Arundell given a fourth Test start on the left wing. Elliot Daly and Jonny May, the two starting wings last Saturday at the Stade de France, are omitted from the squad entirely.

Captain Owen Farrell is once again preferred to George Ford at fly-half alongside Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant, as head coach Steve Borthwick selects an unchanged midfield.

Up front, Borthwick has opted for a new-look front-row, while Ollie Chessum starts over second-row George Martin, who was so impressive against the Springboks.

On the flanks, the ‘Kamikaze Kids’ return as Sam Underhill makes his first start of the World Cup, with Tom Curry shifting to blindside in place of Courtney Lawes, whose England career seems to have ended with last Saturday’s semi-final loss.

Curry starts in spite of the continuing furore surrounding his confrontation with South African hooker Bongi Mbonambi last Saturday.

Bevan Rodd, David Ribbans and Lewis Ludlam all come into the 23, via the replacements, with the backs’ bench unchanged from the South Africa defeat.

“After the disappointment of last weekend’s game against South Africa, it is important that this Friday we once again play with the determination and dedication that so nearly earned the team the result we wanted,” said Borthwick.

“The Bronze Final gives us a great opportunity to finish the tournament on a positive note, continue to build for the future, and to give our supporters one last chance to get behind the squad out here in Paris. The players are looking forward to the challenge against what will be a strong Argentina side.

“Our support from the many England fans, both at home and from those who have travelled to France to watch the team play, has been nothing short of fantastic. We are incredibly grateful to have your backing and on behalf of the entire England Team I would like to thank you all once again”.

England starting XV: M Smith; F Steward, J Marchant, M Tuilagi, H Arundell; O Farrell (c), B Youngs; E Genge (vc), T Dan, W Stuart, M Itoje, O Chessum, T Curry, S Underhill, B Earl.

Replacements: J George, B Rodd, D Cole, D Ribbans, L Ludlam, D Care, G Ford (vc), O Lawrence.

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