Rugby-Marcus Smith wins race to start as England's No. 10 against Japan


  • Rugby
  • Tuesday, 18 Jun 2024

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Summer Series - England Training - Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Britain - May 28, 2024 England's Marcus Smith during training Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

(Reuters) - Marcus Smith will start at flyhalf for England ahead of namesake Fin Smith as coach Steve Borthwick made four enforced changes for their first test of the summer series in Japan on Saturday that could also see powerful wing Tom Roebuck handed his debut.

With Owen Farrell and George Ford unavailable, Marcus Smith has been handed the number 10 jersey to partner scrumhalf Alex Mitchell in England’s first ever test against their hosts in Japan. Fin Smith is among the replacements.

Other changes from the 33-31 Six Nations defeat to France in March see prop Bevan Rodd come in for Ellis Genge and flanker Chandler Cunningham-South make his first international start in place of Ollie Chessum.

Wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso takes over from Elliot Daly, who misses the three-match tour of Japan and New Zealand to attend the birth of his first child.

"Conditions in Tokyo mean we’ll need to be accurate, keep our discipline, and maintain a level of intensity in our performance from the first whistle to the last," Borthwick said.

"We will need to be at our very best against an opponent who will want to play fast."

George Furbank starts at fullback with wing Tommy Freeman making up the remainder of the back three, and Ollie Lawrence and Henry Slade the centre pairing.

Rodd is joined in the front row by Dan Cole and hooker Jamie George, with Maro Itoje and George Martin the lock pairing. Sam Underhill and number eight Ben Earl are at the back of the scrum.

There is a potential debut off the bench for uncapped Sale Sharks wing Roebuck, while flanker Tom Curry, recently returned from long-term injury that kept him out of the Six Nations, is also among the replacements.

After England’s test in Japan they travel to New Zealand for fixtures on July 6 and July 13, where they will look to beat the All Blacks away for the first time in 21 years.

England team to play Japan:

15-George Furbank, 14-Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13-Henry Slade, 12-Ollie Lawrence, 11-Tommy Freeman, 10-Marcus Smith, 9-Alex Mitchell, 8-Ben Earl, 7-Sam Underhill, 6-Chandler Cunningham-South, 5-George Martin, 4-Maro Itoje, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Jamie George (captain), 1-Bevan Rodd.

Replacements: 16-Theo Dan, 17-Joe Marler, 18-Will Stuart, 9-Charlie Ewels, 20-Tom Curry, 21-Harry Randall, 22-Fin Smith, 23-Tom Roebuck.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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