Smith in at fullback for England’s QF with Fiji

MARSEILLE, France – Marcus Smith has been named at fullback for England’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Fiji on Sunday.

The call sees captain Owen Farrell move to fly-half and George Ford on the bench in the boldest selection decision of Steve Borthwick’s England tenure.

Freddie Steward, who has previously been first-choice fullback, drops out of the matchday squad.

Elsewhere Manu Tuilagi moves to inside centre, Joe Marchant is at outside centre and Elliot Daly is named on the wing.

But it’s the call to start Smith and drop Ford which is the standout selection from Borthwick. Smith is usually at fly-half but he has been used as an impact sub at fullback and now takes Steward’s spot for England’s quarterfinal clash.

“The knockout stages of any Rugby World Cup are always full of excitement and keen anticipation for our supporters both at home and here in France,” said Borthwick.

“This will be no different. The players cannot wait for this Sunday’s quarterfinal against Fiji. Everyone knows just what an unpredictably dangerous opposition Fiji can be.

“However, we have shown in the group stages how we can win games, and we will be calling on that experience and determination to ensure we carry on our journey.

“We are very much looking forward to returning to the special atmosphere of the Stade de Marseille, where we started our campaign back in September with a win against Argentina.

“I have said it before, but it is right that I say it again, our supporters contributed to a very special night on that occasion, and I have no doubt it will be another memorable evening this Sunday.”


Marcus Smith, Jonny May, Joe Marchant, Manu Tuilagi, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell (captain), Alex Mitchell; Ben Earl, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Ollie Chessum, Maro Itoje, Dan Cole, Jamie George, Ellis Genge

Replacements: Theo Dan, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, George Martin, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence