England ‘set to take huge Rugby World Cup gamble’ when Borthwick names squad

Rugby World Cup: Ribbans previews England v Chile

England boss Steve Borthwick is set to give Marcus Smith his first career start at full-back for the Rugby World Cup clash against Chile this weekend. The 24-year-old has never started a senior match in the position for either club or country, with England hoping to book their ticket to the quarter-finals.

Borthwick and co are two wins from two in France, having notched victories over Argentina and Japan thus far. The England coach is set to shuffle the pack against Saturday’s South American opponents.

According to The Daily Mail, Borthwick is preparing to take a hefty gamble by starting Smith – naturally a No 10 – at full-back for the first time. The Harlequins star has made four substitute appearances at No 15 over the past few weeks.

Elliot Daly and Ollie Lawrence are poised to form a partnership in midfield, with England fans due to discover the full line-up on Thursday afternoon.

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Max Malins, Danny Care and Henry Arundell are in line to start, with the likes of Jamie George and Courtney Lawes expected to be given a rest as part of the change-around.

Borthwick will be unable to please everyone with his selection amid fierce debate over the return of Owen Farrell. The England captain has now served his four-match ban and will be eligible to face the Chileans.

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Reports indicate that Farrell will be thrown straight in at fly-half, meaning a spot back on the substitutes bench for George Ford, who kicked all 27 points in the opening-game win over Argentina.

England legend Matt Dawson is among those set to be frustrated by Borthwick’s rumoured selection, as he recently told BBC Radio 5 Live that he would not bring Farrell back into the fold or start Smith at full-back.

“I don’t think Owen Farrell is good enough to get in the team at the moment, but let’s see how he goes over the next couple of weeks,” said the 50-year-old. “The off-field dynamic of how great Owen Farrell is, I have heard for years and years, but I have just not seen it on the pitch.

“What I do see up close and analyse is how he plays for England. I don’t see him bringing anything that isn’t already there. I would not put Marcus Smith in as a starting 15 but there is nothing wrong with bringing him on if you need to change a game up.”

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