October 17, 2019 / 2:02 AM / a month ago

Rugby-England spring surprise as Farrell starts at 10 v Australia

OITA, Japan, Oct 17 (Reuters) - England coach Eddie Jones sprung a big surprise on Thursday by naming Owen Farrell to start at flyhalf in the World Cup quarter-final against Australia, dropping George Ford and bringing in Henry Slade to join Manu Tuilagi in midfield.

Billy Vunipola has recovered from a twisted ankle and will start on Saturday, as will his brother Mako in the front row.

Courtney Lawes replaces George Kruis in the second row alongside Maro Itoje while Jamie Joseph replaces the injured Jack Nowell on the bench.

Jones has bounced between Farrell at flyhalf and centre but appeared to have settled on playing him at 12 at the World Cup in Japan, where Ford has been one of England’s most impressive players operating at flyhalf.

However, Jones seems to be seeking to combat Australia’s midfield power, dropping Ford to the bench and giving Slade his first start of the tournament.

“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,” he said.

“We need to defend with brutality and when we have the ball we need play on top of them.” England: 15-Elliot Daly, 14-Anthony Watson, 13-Henry Slade, 12-Manu Tuilagi, 11-Jonny May, 10-Owen Farrell (captain), (captain), 9-Ben Youngs, 8-Billy Vunipola, 7-Sam Underhill, 6-Tom Curry, 5-Courtney Lawes, 4-Maro Itoje, 3-Kyle Sinckler, 2-Jamie George, 1-Mako Vunipola.

Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Joe Marler, 18-Dan Cole, 19-George Kruis, 20-Lewis Ludlam, 21-Willi Heinz, 22-George Ford, 23-Jamie Joseph.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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